Rocco Mediate PGA Tour notebook: Rocco Mediate withdraws from Travelers Championship in Hartford

After coming up just short in a gallant bid to defeat Tiger Woods in Monday's U.S. Open playoff that went 19 holes, Rocco Mediate has withdrawn from this week's Travelers Championship in Hartford, Conn.

Although tournament organizers tried to do everything they could to keep Mediate in the field for this week's PGA Tour event — even offering the use of a private jet to take Mediate from San Diego to Hartford on Monday — it was announced Tuesday that Mediate is skipping the tournament.

"When the playoff went to Monday, obviously you think it's a very short week because he's playing in the pro-am Wednesday," Tournament Director Nathan Grube told the Hartford Courant. "Did I think he was going to withdraw? No. Am I shocked that he did it? No. I can see both."

Considering his struggles for most of the 2008 season prior to arriving at Torrey Pines, Mediate said he was thrilled to find that he could stand up to the challenge of playing in a major tournament against the world's No. 1-ranked player.

"I've won golf tournaments, but not this stuff," Mediate told reporters. "I can handle this heat. And especially against him with everybody in the world all looking in and everyone is expecting me to get my ass handed to me and I didn't. And I almost got it done. I almost got it done."

While "almost" being a major champion doesn't have quite the same benefits to it as actually sealing the deal, Mediate said he learned a lot about himself from the experience.

"I just never quit. I never quit," said Mediate, who has been hampered by injuries in recent years. "And I've been beaten down a few times and came back and I got, I got what I wanted, I got a chance to beat the best player in the world and I came up just a touch short.

But I think I had him a little scared once, which was great."

In for Skins

Camilo Villegas didn't rest on his top-10 finish in the U.S. Open Sunday, earning more than $200,000 in the two-day World Skins Game at Vernon, British Columbia, Monday and Tuesday.

The big putt for Villegas came on the par-5 14th hole when he sank one good for $127,800. He later made $97,800 in the playoff.

Villegas said the World Skins game was a lot more relaxing than playing in the U.S. Open. He flew to Predator Ridge Sunday from San Diego to compete against Fred Couples, Greg Norman, Colin Montgomerie and Mike Weir.

"Just look at those guys: Greg Norman, Mike Weir, Colin, Freddie Couples — I'm just a kid out here, trying to get better and better every day," Villegas told the Associated Press. "It's just fun to come out here and play good."

Worth noting

• With Tiger Woods not scheduled to play this week in the Travelers Championship, Hale Irwin remains the last player to win the U.S. Open and then win the following week. Irwin accomplished this back in 1990.

• Woods, Brandt Snedeker, Robert Karlsson and Miguel Angel Jimenez are the only players to have finished in the top 10 in both the Masters and the U.S. Open in 2008.

• Several players made large gains in the FedExCup standings thanks to their finishes at the U.S. Open. While Open runner-up Rocco Mediate had the biggest leap, going from 127th all the way to 48th, Lee Westwood gained 52 spots to reach 72nd, and Eric Axley climbed 30 places to 125th on the list.

• With his U.S. Open victory, Woods now has 13 wins in his native state of California. He's won two U.S. Opens, six Buick Invitationals, two World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championships, one Mercedes-Benz Championship, one AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and one World Golf Championships-CA Championship.

June 18, 2008

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