CALGARY - After winning the inaugural Shaw Charity Classic, Rocco Mediate vowed to return to defend his title next year.
Mediate shot a 7-under 64 in the final round if the Champions Tour event on Sunday and cruised to a seven-shot victory over Tom Byrum.
"Calgary's awesome," said Mediate, who finished 22 under for the event and earned a US$300,000 payday. "The crowd is fantastic. Monster crowds this weekend and they obviously like us being here, so we're obviously coming back for a while. I will no matter what. They showed their support big time for all of us."
Through the first two rounds at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club, Mediate carded a 15-under 127, which was the lowest total through two rounds of any Champions Tour event this year. His score of 191 tied a Champions Tour record, which is also held by Bruce Fleisher, Loren Roberts, Bernhard Langer and David Frost, for lowest score through any 54-hole event
Mediate carried a two-shot lead over Bobby Clampett into the third and final round of the tournament and wasn't challenged by anyone en route to his second victory this season on the senior PGA Tour. The 50-year-old Champions Tour rookie also won the Allianz Championship in February in his first-ever start.
"I liked it when I saw it," said Mediate of the par-71, 7,117-yard course. "It's just that you've got to drive real straight. I like that feeling, not that I drove straight all the time, but most of the time I did. You can't do anything if you don't drive straight."
Fan favourite Fred Couples, who finished in a tie for 10th spot at 12 under, said it was pretty "hard to swallow" in regards to Mediate's run-away victory.
"It's exciting golf, but it's hard to believe," Couples said. "This is not a pitch and putt golf course.
"If you could just tone down Rocco, you'd have a hell of a tournament out there. There's about 10 guys that could win. It's a good tournament."
Byrum, who earned a spot into the 81-man field through a qualifying tournament on Tuesday, carded a 7-under 64 on Sunday to rise from 14th spot after two rounds and into second.
"I just think as many times as getting around (the course), it was a definite advantage," Byrum said. "I had a good feel for it. I had some good numbers, got comfortable on it early, so it was definitely nice to be out a couple times before the tournament started."
Duffy Waldorf and Kirk Triplett finished in a tie for third at 14 under, while Clampett, Scott Hoch, Jeff Freeman, Michael Allen and Tom Pernice Jr. tied for fifth spot at 13 under.
Bill Glasson shot a 9-under 62 to move up the leaderboard and finished in a tie for 10th with Couples, Jay Don Blake, Bart Bryant and Frost.
Glasson was tied for 39th position at 3 under through the first two rounds before moving up. He had nine birdies on his bogey-free round Sunday to break the course record of 63, which was set by Mediate on Friday and equalled by Mike Goodes on Saturday.
"I needed that round," Glasson said. "I've been playing miserably, and I kind of had a good feeling, not 62 feeling, but I've been working on a couple changes."
Rod Spittle of Niagara Falls, Ont., finished as the top Canadian in a tie for 29th at 8 under after shooting 68 on Sunday.
"It was solid and always nice to finish that way," said Spittle, who was tied for second at 7 under after the first round before shooting a 2-over 73 on Saturday. "Everybody has done such a terrific job for a first-year event. I'm sure everybody will be looking forward to next year without a doubt."
Victoria's Jim Rutledge shot a 1-under 70 to finish well back at 6 over. After shooting even-par rounds of 71 on the first two days, Dave Barr of Kelowna B.C., carded a disappointing 7-over 78 in the final round.
Champions Tour president Mike Stevens commended tournament organizers for putting on a great event and also praised the droves of fans who lined the tee boxes, fairways and greens to take in the action.
"There was kind of this hopeful optimism in the air from all of us that we knew Calgary was a very enthusiastic golf market and we knew it was a great sports town, but we just didn't know if the golf enthusiasm would translate into a successful golf tournament, even with the best players in the world playing here," Stevens said.
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