Two years ago, on the eve of the 2006 United States Open at Winged Foot, Rocco Mediate invited me to his hometown of Greensburg, Pa., to watch his preparations for the second major of the year. Two months earlier, he had thrown out his back while in contention at the Masters. During my visit, I remember him talking about how calm he had been chasing a green jacket, only to see the dream wrecked with one swing Sunday on the par-4 ninth hole.
Seeing him in contention at Torrey Pines hardly surprises me. He loves this championship more than any other and he can drive his ball on a string. If he can make a few putts (and keep his 45-year-old back healthy), I think he's just kooky enough to win this thing.
(Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)