Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Tiger Woods paired with Rocco Mediate
By Bob Harig
SAN DIEGO -- For the first time since their epic playoff duel at the 2008 U.S Open, Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate will play together this week -- at the same course where Woods prevailed to win his 14th major championship.
"It's funny how that pairing happened," Mediate quipped Tuesday at Torrey Pines, site of the Farmers Insurance Open, where Woods will make his 2011 PGA Tour debut with Anthony Kim rounding out the threesome. "What a shocker."
The groupings are typically determined by a random draw with a player's particular category, but this one was clearly rigged.
"It creates more interest," said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.
The threesome will tee off at noon ET Thursday on Torrey Pines' North course. They play at 1 p.m. ET Friday on the South course, site of the 2008 U.S. Open, where Woods drained a dramatic 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to tie Mediate, then defeated him the next day in a playoff that went 19 holes -- all while playing on a broken leg.
"It's going to be fantastic," said Mediate, 48, who has six PGA Tour titles. "I haven't seen him in a while [and] I haven't played with him since '08. It's been a long time, it will be a lot of fun."
Woods was not on site Tuesday and will play the South course during Wednesday's pro-am for the first time since capturing the U.S. Open.
This has been a place of great success for him. He has won the Farmers tournament six times, including four in a row from 2005 to 2008, and the U.S. Open -- which makes five straight victories for him here.
But he missed the 2009 tournament while recovering from knee surgery that occurred eight days after winning the 2008 U.S. Open. And last year he was in the midst of his leave from golf and did not return until the Masters.
"It's always fun to play with Tiger," said Mediate, who captured the Frys.com Open last October. "I've said many times, the excitement level goes to the moon. ... When you're playing with him, the focus becomes better.
"You have to assume that he's going to really come out and be ready to go this year and play good. You have to assume that knowing him a little bit."
For the first time in his professional career, Woods, 35, does not have a title to defend in 2011. His last victory on the PGA Tour came at the 2009 BMW Championship, his last worldwide win at the 2009 Australian Masters.
The Farmers tournament splits the field between the North and South courses for the first two rounds, with the final 36 holes played over the South course.
Bob Harig is the golf writer for ESPN.com.