Rocco Mediate, making a late-season push, takes lead in Open with 64

Sitting at 182nd on the money list, Rocco Mediate needed

something up his sleeve for the final three tournaments of the

season to earn his


Tour card.

On Thursday, he had an ace.

Mediate made a hole-in-one on the 191-yard third hole at

CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, sparking a 7-under-par 64 that

vaulted him to the top of the leader board in the opening round of

the Open.

Mediate, the 2008


Open runner-up to Tiger Woods, shot

a blistering 6-under 29 on the front nine and had a birdie on No.

15 on the way to a one-shot lead over Bo Van Pelt, Ryuji Imada and

Paul Goydos. Four more players are within two of the lead,

including 2003


Championship winner Shaun


Rickie Fowler, who lost a three-way playoff in last year’s Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., was at 2 under. Defending

champion Troy Matteson shot a 1-over 72.

If Mediate had won his 19-hole U.S. Open playoff against Woods

at Torrey Pines in 2008, he would have earned a five-year exemption

on the PGA Tour. Instead, he lost full playing privileges last year

and is trying to gain them back with a last-ditch effort in the

Fall Series.

Mediate still is reminded of the 2008 U.S. Open by fans every

day, or “47 million times” by his estimation. And he savors it.

“I want to get back there again,” he said. “I want to get back

to that situation. Even today, it was fun playing with the lead. I

don’t care what day it is.”

Mediate gave himself a clean bill of health, but he

self-diagnosed his golfing troubles in the past year as putting.

Mediate is 183rd on the PGA Tour in putting average, and he has

made just nine of 23 cuts this season.

“I’ve been striking it really well for a long time, but my

putting has been murdering me, and it’s been bleeding into the rest

of my game,” he said.

Mediate had just 27 putts Thursday, and he has made his past

three cuts thanks to an adjustment in his stroke.

“All the great putters keep their blade low to the ground, and I

was coming straight up and down,” Mediate said. “I was practically

chipping it.”

Goydos, who had a 59 earlier this season, shot a 30 on the front

nine to grab a share of the early lead. He said his recent

assistant-captain duties with the U.S. Ryder Cup team were


“It was really inspiring to be around those guys,” said Goydos,

who is 76th on the money list but would earn berths into all of

next year’s invitational tournaments if he finishes in the top 70.

“I definitely think it helped my mental attitude toward the


Micheel is tied for fifth with John Mallinger, Michael Letzig

and Will MacKenzie.

Last year’s Open playoff runner-up Jamie Lovemark was

also 5 under until a double-bogey on his final hole dropped him

into a tie for 14th. Also 14th is David Duval, who birdied four of

his first seven holes before shooting a 3-under 68. Duval is 109th

on the money list.

The Open will be played a week earlier next year, Oct.

6-9, preventing a conflict with the LPGA’s CVS/pharmacy


Live Oak High graduate John Ellis opened with a 70, St. Francis

alum Joseph Bramlett posted a 74, Monterey’s Chris Marin shot a 75,

and former San Jose State player Isaac Weintraub had a 79.

After shooting a 77 at the Institute Golf Club on Tuesday,

Goydos played with owner John Fry on Wednesday. Goydos called the

greens, which rolled faster than a 15 on the stimpmeter, the

fastest he has ever putted. Pebble Beach’s greens at the U.S. Open

rolled close to a 13.

“He is a math genius,” Goydos said of Fry. “He designed the

greens to maximize speed. You don’t want too much slope, but you

don’t want too little slope. He did some math equation.”

The Institute is expected to replace CordeValle as the

Open venue in as little as three years.