After 23 years on the PGA Tour, professional golfers rarely get to experience something for the first time. Rocco Mediate, who turned pro back in 1985, has never played on a Ryder Cup team. But with the season’s final major upon us, the 45-year-old is on the verge of making Paul Azinger’s roster.
Mediate is currently 12th on the Ryder Cup points list. The top eight players automatically earn spots, and another four will be chosen in the coming weeks as captain’s picks.
"It would be great," Mediate said Wednesday. "One more good shot here to get in the top eight is what we are all looking to do."
No one is going to forget his duel with Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open, but Mediate won’t make the Ryder Cup team solely because of his performance at Torrey Pines.
Azinger said Wednesday, "As far as picks, personality could play a part, but I’m looking for guys that are playing really well and that have a lot of confidence." After mentioning Woody Austin, Brendt Snedeker and D.J. Trahan’s accomplishments, Azinger added, "Rocco is another guy who could be very confident."
It’s that confidence, along with his resurgent game, that would make him a great partner in a four-ball or foursome match. He’s not long off the tee, but Rocco is a solid iron player, has an underrated short game and a knack for holing meaningful putts.
And after going toe-to-toe with Tiger for 91 holes, do you think there is anyone on the European team that is going to rattle his spikes?
The European media took notice of what Rocco could bring to the Ryder Cup party after Torrey Pines, but they were skeptical that he’d find his way onto the U.S. team. Oliver Owen wrote in The Guardian:
"Rocco Mediate will never play on a Ryder Cup team. He will never finish high enough up the money list to earn his place and has no chance of being a captain’s pick. Paul Azinger will not have given Rocco Mediate a second thought as he plots how to get the cup back from the Europeans. But Rocco Mediate would be the perfect Ryder Cup player… if he was European."
So how ironic would it be if, after 23 years on Tour, Rocco Mediate were the guy to give the European Ryder Cup team a taste of its own medicine? (Photo: Fred Vuich/SI)