Rocco Mediate’s body is almost as stationary as a rock when he’s putting now.
The 59-year-old is using Bryson DeChambeau’s putting style with his arms completely locked and just his shoulders moving.
In his fourth round with the style, and the first round of the Chubb Classic presented by SERVPRO on Friday, Mediate shot a 4-under-par 68 and is in contention on the Black Course at Tiburón Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.
“The putting has been amazing,” Mediate said. “It’s entirely Bryson’s technique and company (SIK Golf). It’s arm lock. It’s lock down. I’ve talked to him about it, and I’m happy to say that. He’s told me a lot of very cool things on how to do it.
“… The way we do the arms and everything, everything’s locked out of motion. All you have to do is move your shoulders.”
Mediate made a nice par-saving putt to close the round after missing the green on the par-5 18th and pitching the ball a few feet past the hole.
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“I can’t be more excited about the rest of the year,” Mediate said. “I think all of us out here if we’re swinging just awful, and we all do, you still make a score. All of a sudden if you make one more putt a day that you didn’t make, and you add that up at the end of the year, it becomes astronomical.
“That’s what I should be more interested in.”
Mediate is a Calusa Pines Golf Club member, and had the director of golf Mike Balliet in his pairing Friday. Balliet, who is in on a sponsor exemption, struggled mightily, shooting a 90. Mediate told him to just relax.
“When you get in that situation you’re out of your element … that’s what we told him, ‘Calm down. Relax,” Mediate said. “It’s not what you do. Go out there and have some fun (Saturday). We had as much fun as he could. You can see it.”
Rocco Mediate (USA) walks off the green on the 18th hole during the first round of the Chubb Classic, Friday, February 18, 2022, at Tiburón Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida.
Mediate is friends with Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson, enough so that Lifeson has brought him on stage during a show before. That’s what he likened Balliet being out with tour professionals.
“I’m like ‘Dude, what are you doing?’ I’m like ‘Get me outta here, no I don’t like this,’” Mediate said of Lifeson bringing him up. “Mikey’s a really good player, but he’s just out of his element.”
Some Calusa Pines members plus owner Gary Chensoff were following the group.
“It was great, a lot of the members were there,” Mediate said. “They weren’t watching me.”
Tolles still recovering
Tommy Tolles (USA) tees off on the second hole during the first round of the Chubb Classic, Friday, February 18, 2022, at Tiburón Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida.
Fort Myers native Tommy Tolles played his first round in a Champions Tour event since last summer. He underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee, then returned for four events, not finishing any higher than 60th.
Tolles, 55, also had shoulder surgery in 2020.
“The shoulder healed really well, the knee not so well,” Tolles said after shooting a 1-over 73.
Despite that, Tolles walked. Even though it’s possible for him to have a cart on the Champions Tour, he’d rather not.
“They can label us whatever they want, senior tour, Champions Tour, but you don’t have to act like one,” he said. “You could go out there play like a 40- or 45-year-old.
“… I refuse to take one. If I can’t sit there and carry on a conversation with a walking scorer, my playing partners, caddies, then I don’t want to be a part of it. Walking is a fundamental part of the game. I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
Tolles said he struggled in all aspects of his game in his first competitive round since last June.
“I can’t really push off my right side through the swing,” he said. “It’s kind of more of an arm swing. I’ve lost a little distance.”
But it was everything that didn’t go well.
“I didn’t do anything right today,” he said. “You can’t be upset with making almost a handful of birdies when the wedge game wasn’t very good. Everything’s pretty dull. I drove the ball fairly well, and kept it in play for the most part.
“My short game’s extremely rusty. My iron game’s not very sharp. My wedge game was horrific.”
Tolles does have some time to get back up to speed. He is on a medical extension and has 17 events to make enough money to earn his full status back.
“Now it’s all on me,” he said.