Mediate brushes off Johnny Miller's comments

Mediate brushes off Johnny Miller’s comments

Rocco Mediate, left, lost the U.S. Open in a playoff to Tiger Woods.
Robert Beck/SI

BARRINGTON, R.I. — Rocco Mediate treated his taut U.S. Open battle against Tiger Woods with a smile and a carefree attitude.

On Monday, he reacted to NBC announcer Johnny Miller in much the same manner.

Miller, known for his often blunt commentary, had referred to Mediate during the final round at Torrey Pines as looking like “the guy who cleans Tiger’s swimming pool.” Miller then went on to say that “guys with the name ‘Rocco’ don’t get on the trophy, do they?”

“When I heard it, I was like, ‘I can’t believe he said that,'” Mediate said of his initial reaction. “A name like Rocco being on the US Open trophy, it is a bit different. So is Tiger. It doesn’t matter. What am I going to do, scream and holler at him? Johnny’s fine. He says what’s on his mind and shoots from the hip and then fixes it later. I do that a lot.”

Mediate, who is competing at the two-day CVS Caremark Charity Classic at Rhode Island Country Club, said he received a message from Miller apologizing.

“I was fine with it,” Mediate said. “He said, ‘I didn’t mean what I said.'”

Two Italian-American groups have been critical of Miller’s remarks, with one of the groups calling for NBC to suspend him. Miller on Friday released a statement that apologzied to anyone who had been offended.

“My intention was to convey my affection and admiration for Rocco’s everyman qualities and had absolutely nothing to do with his ethnicity,” Miller said. “I chose my words poorly and in the future will be more careful.”

After making his star turn at Torrey Pines, where he battled Woods in a playoff before succumbing on the 19th hole, the 45-year-old Mediate was the star attraction at the CVS.

Playing alongside Brandt Snedeker in the tournament’s team format, Mediate helped the group to a 62 to trail the team of Bubba Watson and Camilo Villegas by one shot. The groups of Paul Goydos and Tim Herron, Billy Andrade and Davis Love III, and Charles Howell and Nick Price also shot 62.

The adoration that followed Mediate along the cliffs in San Diego continued along the seaside in Rhode Island.

“It was like playing with Elvis,” Snedeker said.