by Ken Klavon USGA
OK, how many of you out there think Stuart Appleby and Rocco Mediate may hold steady? I don't say that to belittle either. Even Mediate, perhaps one of the true realists out there, knows that with Tiger Woods on the prowl it could be a matter of holes until they see his tail. I kinda liked that metaphor.
Here's what I know, though: it's hard not to root for a guy like Mediate. He's been through hell and back with various injuries over the last six years. His back has been the major cause. But, like I mentioned before, he approaches everyone with a buddy-buddy attitude. There are some golfers out there who would be more inclined to see you jump off one of the 100-foot bluffs here.
Interesting aside to Mediate. A few years ago he was out playing a round with a few pressmen during a charity event, when one of them asked him what makes a professional on tour so good. Mediate proceeded to take a club from his bag and said, "See that, I've got about 220 to the pin, 212 to the lip of the front edge of the green."
He reared back and immediately shot a look of disdain. "Missed my target." The ball bounded just ahead of the lip and rolled some 8 feet past and above the hole. To the regular hacker, it's a phenomenal shot. Mediate went on to say that all pros are so precise with their math, club, wind, etc. that they know instantaneously whether they're on the mark. It was an interesting exchange, nonetheless.
Shortly after Mediate arrived at the course today, he offered his analysis of today's round. More about his game than anything else's.
"If the short game stays intact going into the back nine, I'd like to see what I can do," he said.
Right after that, Appleby arrived. He summed up what he needed to do to stay in contention. He's got to balance his thoughts and not get physically tired. "It is a physical test as much as a mental test," he said.
I'm finished. For now.