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Mediate proving his worth

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 28, 2002

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Rocco Mediate's long putter took him a long way in the first three rounds of the Greater Greensboro Classic.

Mediate, putting nothing like his PGA Tour stats indicate, shot 6-under 66 Saturday for a two-shot lead on Mark Calcavecchia heading into today's final round.

Mediate began the week 140th on tour in putting average, but needed 25 putts in his third round and 77 through 54 holes.

"I've worked on a few things with my right-hand grip and slowed my pace down a lot -- you know, things that we as professionals change every other day," Mediate said. "I don't know why I hadn't been putting good. I think my pace got off and my lines got crooked. That's all you need.

"There were no putts that really got away from me today. I just had a little bit better feel."

Mediate, the winner here in 1993, began the third round one stroke behind co-leaders Calcavecchia and Robert Gamez, but birdied his first three holes at Forest Oaks Country Club to tie for the lead.

"I came out and got a really dreamy kind of start," Mediate said.

Mediate bogeyed his next two holes to fall from the top of the leaderboard as quickly as he got there. However, he rebounded on the back nine with three birdies in a four-hole span, then made a 20-footer on No. 18 for a 15-under total and an opportunity for his fifth PGA Tour victory.

"I've set myself up to play good because I've played good to get here," Mediate said. "There is no reason I can't do it again."

Mediate is ranked 17th in the world -- the highest in the field.

"I don't put a lot of merit in it, but once I know where I'm ranked I want to show myself and everybody else that's where I should be ranked," Mediate said. "I don't like for people to say, "He shouldn't be in the top 20 in the world. What the heck has he done?' "

Calcavecchia began the day at 10-under and carded a 69 to stay close, getting a birdie on his final hole.

Good putting has also saved the 10-time tour winner this week. Calcavecchia hit only seven greens Saturday and was at 50 percent after three rounds. However, he's needed just 67 putts after some wonderful chipping.

"I must have had four or five fringes today and another three, four or five holes where I was a couple of feet off the fringe," Calcavecchia said. "These greens are very small, they are hard to hit and they're firm."

Chad Campbell was another two shots back at 9-under after a 66, while Gamez, who hasn't won in 12 years, stumbled to a 73 and was in a fourth-place tie with Jonathan Kaye, six behind Mediate.

Campbell started the day five shots behind the co-leaders, but birdied four of his first five holes to card a 30 on the front side, then closed out his round with a tap-in birdie on No. 18.

Campbell earned his tour card after winning three times last year on the Buy.com Tour.

The 27-year-old Campbell was in contention after three rounds earlier this season at Bay Hill, but closed with an 80.

"Every time you get a chance to win, no matter where you're playing, it definitely helps," Campbell said.

SENIOR TRADITION: John Jacobs combined a sizzling putter with his trademark long drives to shoot 6-under 66 for a one-shot lead at Superstition Mountain, Ariz.

Jim Thorpe, who began the day in a three-way tie for the lead, chipped in from about 30 feet for an eagle on the par-5, 553-yard 18th hole to pull within a shot of the lead.

Jacobs was at 10-under 206 through 54 holes on the 7,228-yard Prospector course.

Thorpe shot 70. Bob Gilder, tied with Thorpe and Bob Eastwood at 7 under entering the third round, birdied the 18th and was two back at 8-under 208.

SPANISH OPEN: Sergio Garcia shot 5-under 67, building a five-stroke lead after three rounds in Las Palmas, Canary Islands.

* * *

TODAY ON TV: European, Canarias Open de Espana, 8:30 a.m., GC; Buy.com, BMW Charity Pro-AM, 12:30 p.m., GC; Senior, The Tradition, 3, Ch. 28; Canadian, Barefoot Classic, 3:30, GC; PGA, Chrysler Classic, 4, Ch. 10.

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