2002: PGA Tour - Mediate drives home with a windy win

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Greensboro, N.C.

The wind was gusting, his swing was shaky and he had no feel for his putting. Down the stretch, however, Rocco Mediate’s driver was just fine.

Thanks to a third-round 66, Mediate entered the April 28 final round of the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic with a two-shot lead over Mark Calcavecchia. But Calcavecchia quickly pulled into a tie for the top spot after a birdie on the par-5 second hole and a Mediate bogey on the par-3 fourth as the winds gusted to 30 mph at Forest Oaks Country Club.

Mediate pulled himself together, though, with birdies on the fifth and sixth holes. When Calcavecchia bogeyed Nos. 5 and 7, Mediate was back in front by four.

“From there, he was in the driver’s seat,” said Calcavecchia, who finished second despite tying a Tour record for fewest putts (93) in a 72-hole tournament.

The lead grew to five after another Calcavecchia bogey at No. 11, and Calcavecchia never got closer than three strokes after that, finishing at 13-under 275, three shots behind Mediate, whose 1-under 71 gave him a 16-under 272 total.

Rookie Jonathan Byrd had a career-best finish, firing a Sunday-best 66 to tie for third at 10-under 278 with Chad Campbell (73), last year’s leading money winner on the Buy.com Tour. Carl Paulson (68) and Jim Gallagher Jr. (69) tied for fifth at 279.

Still, Mediate’s fifth PGA Tour victory – and second at Greensboro, which he also won in 1993 – wasn’t as easy as it appeared, he said.

“Today I had nothing,” said Mediate. “I just felt bad out there. I didn’t feel like I could put the ball where I wanted to because I didn’t know what the wind was going to do.

“It was just about survival. This was ugly, and I just kept going forward and going forward. That’s what’s most satisfying to me.”

What helped the most was a steady driver on the last few holes.

“The driver swings I made were the best driver swings I may have ever made in that type of situation,” Mediate said. “I didn’t miss a fairway. I knew if I did I was going to lose because if Calcavecchia gets on one of those binges, I’m out of here. I knew I didn’t have it, but I brought it in.”

It was Mediate’s first Tour triumph since the 2000 Buick Open. The top prize of $684,000 boosted his 2002 earnings to a career-high $1.48 million, topping last year’s $1.47 million. Mediate, who had consecutive third-place finishes at Bay Hill and The Players Championship in March, is sixth on this year’s money list.

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