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Sports

Ailing Mediate struggles at Open

| Friday, June 16, 2006

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- There aren't many good things to say about Rocco Mediate's day during the first round of the U.S. Open.

He woke up with a very sore back, arrived at Winged Foot Golf Club and felt no better, played 18 holes sore and even hit a couple dozen balls on the practice range with pain. But as he walked back to the clubhouse early Thursday afternoon, he felt slightly encouraged.

"All things considered, 76 wasn't a bad score today," said Mediate, a Greensburg native. "It was a bad one for sure. I really tried to protect myself out there early, and the more I protected, the more I hurt. So, when I got to the 15th tee, I decided to make a full swing and see how much that hurt. What I found out was that it didn't hurt anymore if I took full swings. So, from there in, I hit some good shots."

After an MRI and an examination by a doctor, Mediate was put on medication designed to ease the pain that has plagued him since the Masters.

He managed to hit only five fairways and eight greens, a sure recipe for trouble on a difficult golf course ringed with back-jarring rough. Most of the time when he missed the fairway, he stepped up to his ball, took a quick look, grabbed his sand wedge and lobbed it back onto the fairway.

"No doubt, this is the hardest Open I've played in, but it's the best setup I've ever seen," Mediate said. "I'd have loved to have taken a shot at it 100 percent healthy."

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