From the WSOP to the U.S. Open

A few years ago, I sat in the Amazon Room at the World Series. I was pulled away from the tables for a second and put in front of somebody I didn't expect to see in Vegas.

"Brad, I'd like you to meet Rocco Mediate."

I knew Mediate was a pro golfer, but had no idea he was both such a nice guy and so interested in poker. Over the next few days, Rocco and I had the chance to talk several times. I learned that he was ten years into recovery after rupturing a disc in his back and, when not playing golf, he wanted to learn how to better play cards.

That year, Rocco was sponsored by PokerStars and made it to Day 2 of the World Series. He and Team PokerStars Pro Greg Raymer forged a quick friendship. Rocco gave Raymer golf tips, and Raymer responded in kind with his poker knowledge.

Rocco Mediate at the World Series

Now, as the World Series and Raymer churn on in Las Vegas, Rocco is still on the links. I watched yesterday as Rocco stood waiting to see if he would win the U.S. Open. When Tiger Woods sunk the playoff-forcing putt on 18, watching Rocco's face was much like a guy--heads up for a bracelet--watch his opponent get there on the river to even the stacks.

"I knew he was going to make it," Rocco said.

The putt didn't mean the game was over, though. It only meant it wasn't over right then and there. Rocco still has a chance to win.

As I write this Woods has a one-stroke lead after six in the 18-hole playoff. With 12 holes to play, this is a heads-up battle that is as fun to watch as a World Series final table.

Good luck today, Rocco, and thanks for giving us a great show.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in PokerStars news