Mediate takes early lead at SAS Championship

Hitting fairways and making putts results in 7-under 65 in Round 1

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
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Peter Koutroumpis (@pksport)

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CARY, NC – Rocco Mediate kept it simple during first-round play on the SAS Championship course layout at Prestonwood Country Club on Friday.

He carded a 7-under 65 that put him at the top of the leaderboard, thanks to an eagle on the par-5 17th hole.

“Yeah, good drive and a 5-iron, 15-footer. You know, if you drive it in the fairway, you know you’re going to have a shot at the flag,” Mediate said matter-of-factly afterwards.

Not far behind Mediate was Y.E. Yang (-6) and Tom Gillis (-5), his playing partners as Saturday’s second round feature group.

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

Working it

Looking as lean and fit as he’s ever been according to him, Mediate said that hard work has been his secret to playing as well as he did on Friday, his lowest 18-hole finish at the SAS in seven starts here.

“The work I’ve been doing is showing up a little bit,” Mediate noted.

“Better striking, better putting this week and a little bit last week, showing up. Just got to be patient, that’s the hard part. Patience. 

“We’re working just as hard as we always worked. I know we’re older, but we still want to do really good. Today was a good day, today was solid. A lot of balls off the middle of the face, a lot of them, and that’s all that matters.”

It’s been a while

Without a PGA Tour Champions win since 2019, Mediate knows that there’s still a lot of golf to play and to fend off a tough field of players vying for spots in the upcoming Schwab Cup playoffs.

Seeking his fifth Tour win, with one top-10 finish on the season, the attitude and the play he displayed to take the early lead will need to carryover each day with getting the first ball on the fairway and going from there.

“I definitely would like to have another trophy sometime soon, that would be cool,” he said smiling.

“It’s so hard at any level. Getting off to a good start – huge. We’ll see what we do with it the next two days, but it was great, it was great. Hitting my ball where I’m looking and, like I said, making putts. I made a bunch of good putts today and that’s what it’s all about.”

Notables: Gillis’ 5-under 67 matched his low round of the season. His best finish in 2022 is T10 (Hoag Classic)…2019 champion and Charles Schwab No. 4 Jerry Kelly is one of eight players T4 at 4-under, along with 2017 champion Colin Montgomerie, Charles Schwab No. 8 Thongchai Jaidee, Charles Schwab No. 10 Steve Flesch, World Golf Hall of Fame member Fred Couples, Scott McCarron, Scott Dunlap and Robert Karlsson…Defending champion Lee Janzen sits T28 at 1-under 71.

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