Rocco Mediate 2016
Credit: Getty Images

Rocco Mediate is hoping a return to the place where he had the biggest victory in his career will kickstart his 2022 campaign on the PGA Tour Champions.

Mediate, who won the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in 2016 at Harbor Shores, says he remembers “everything” about his week on Lake Michigan.

“You remember all of it. It’s pretty cool,” said Mediate. “It’s just a relentless golf course. But if you put it in the right place, you’ve seen over a few times, you can make scores here, but the wind gets up and it’s just relentless. It’s a good, hard golf course.”

81st KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship
TULSA, OK - MAY 29: Rocco Mediate hits his tee shot on the third hole during the third round of the 81st KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship held at the Southern Hills Country Club on May 29, 2021 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA of America via Getty Images)
Credit: PGA of America via Getty Images

Mediate notched a top-25 result at last year’s KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and has one top-10 finish this season on PGA Tour Champions. With a laugh, he called his game “yucky” and said despite how hard he’s been working, he hasn’t yet found good results in 2022.

He’s hoping that changes this week.

“I’m working my butt off on myself. It’s not that far off, but it always feels like you’re done… you have no chance,” said Mediate with a smile. “But it’s coming around slowly. The beauty of our sport, what I like most about it, is Thursday morning I get to see how it works against the best field on the best golf course. That’s the most fun.

“You can practice, hit shots, play all you want. It does nothing. When the bell rings, everything changes.”

In 2016 Mediate dueled with Collin Montgomerie down the stretch of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. Montgomerie, who had won the two previous KitchenAid Senior PGA’s – including the 2014 edition at Harbor Shores – and Mediate played together for three rounds.

Mediate recalls fondly what happened on the 71st hole of the championship – holing a bunker shot for a miracle birdie.

“17 was kind of huge,” said Mediate.

On 18 that year, to close out the championship, Mediate hit his tee ball into a bunker (“That bunker is not there anymore, by the way”) and had about 150 yards to the front of the green. The pin was in the back. He made a conscious, smart decision and took his medicine. He bunted a 5-iron along the ground and ended up on the green. He two-putted for the win.

“I’m three ahead, and (Montgomerie) just hit it to six or eight feet. I was going to chip it down, run it on the front of the green hopefully… I’m not putting it in the air because the only mistake I could have made was short right, done,” recalled Mediate.

“I think sometimes you’re just destined, it just happened.”

Mediate was quick to heap praise on Harbor Shores as well, as he looks for a better second half of 2022. The transformation of the area, he said, is most impressive. The test is major-championship caliber.

“There’s plenty of room to drive out here, but then it narrows because… some greens have three or four quadrants to them, and if you miss that quadrant you don’t get to shoot a good score most of the time,” he said. “I think that’s OK, because it’s a major championship and you’ve got to have control of your ball. Here, you know… a good-looking shot a couple of feet offline, best wishes.

“I enjoy that in a major championship. It should be hard.”

Mediate knows he’s been working hard on rectifying whatever it is that he’s been struggling with so far this season. But now it’s time – at a place he has had success at – to figure it all out.

“I know what the issues are, it’s just a matter of fixing it,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting out of it. We’ll find out Thursday if I’m out of it yet. Because (Harbor Shores) will expose you. There’s no hiding around this joint. That’s what I like about it.”

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