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Rocco still rolling at Birkdale, two off halfway lead

Mediate_299 SOUTHPORT, England — After grabbing the spotlight during the first round of the British Open, the old guys were supposed to slouch back down the leaderboard during Friday's second round, taking up their customary role of mere footnotes in the championship while the young guns take center stage.
Rocco Mediate didn't keep to that script at Torrey Pines, and he's refusing to do so 6,000 miles away at Royal Birkdale, where he lies just three two shots off the lead held by 53-year-old Greg Norman.
After sharing the overnight lead at one-under-par, Mediate added a three-over 73 Friday to stand at two-over for the tournament at the halfway stage. His round was punctuated by an approach shot to 6 inches at the last for a tap-in birdie.
"I hit the ball way better today and shot four shots higher. I didn't make enough putts and that's the whole key,"Mediate said.
The 45-year-old admits that he's still on a high from his epic playoff loss to Tiger Woods at last month's U.S. Open. "Getting into the playoff with Tiger gives you a whole bunch of confidence," he said. "I love this game and that I can do it for a living in front of people, it's just the coolest thing in the world. I don't know how much better of a job you can have. I want to keep it for a while."
However, with his famously balky back, Mediate admits he's keeping a wary eye on the gloomy weather forecast for the weekend. "I understand we're going to have some nasty stuff for the next two days," he said. "It is just going to be about survival."
(Photo: John Biever/SI)

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by Kevin Cunningham