Rocco Mediate once flirted with a major victory over Tiger Woods. Now he's happy being in contention no matter what day of the week.
"It was fun playing with a lead," Mediate said after he made a hole-in-one on the par-3 third hole and shot a bogey-free 7-under 64 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the Frys.com Open. "You can wait your whole life for this feeling."
Paul Goydos, Bo Van Felt and Ryuji Imada opened with 65s, and John Mallinger, Michael Letzig, Shaun Micheel and Will MacKenzie had 66s. U.S. Ryder Cup player Rickie Fowler shot a 69.
The 46-year-old Mediate used a 6-iron on the 190-yard third hole for the hole-in-one, his second of the year. He also had am ace in the third round of the John Deere Classic in July.
"It's just cool," Mediate said. "It looked like it barely fell in."
Mediate lost a 19-hole playoff to Woods at the 2008 U.S. Open Championship and has not finished higher than ninth since.
"It's all about putting," Mediate said. "It has just been destroying me. I reach the fairway and hit the green but I three-putt three to five times a day and you're not going to beat anybody doing that."
He knew what he needed to do to correct the situation but it seemed to fail him until the past few weeks.
"No matter what I did, I could not make any putts," Mediate said. "My attitude was horrible. I kept thinking I would hit the green but miss the putt. That's not the way to think."
He eventually got the feeling and still hopes to make the cut for next year's PGA Tour. He's currently 182nd on the money list and needs to finish among the top 125.
"If I don't have enough money to be in the top 125 than I don't belong there," Mediate said. "I'll go to Q-school if I have to. I know I can still compete.
Imada is 110th on the money list, above the cutoff line to remain on the PGA Tour but tenuous nonetheless.
"I know the number will be larger than where I am now I am assuming," Imada said. "I hope to have a good week here and an enjoyable week in Las Vegas."
Imada did himself no favors by missing the cut in 10 of his last 14 tournaments.
He's also has fought a rib injury since early in the year and feels it every time he takes a swing.
"The only way to heal an injury like that is to take time off," he said. "I was told to take eight weeks off but I was only able to take four weeks off. It doesn't hurt to practice but I know it's there and I have to be careful with it."
The 46-year-old Goydos, meanwhile, sits at 76th on the money list.
He bogeyed his first hole and went 1 under through the back nine. He made up for it on the front nine.
"I was like the weather," the Long Beach player said. "I started cold and heated up. I like the hot weather. It helps my old body get loose."
Goydos served as an assistant captain at the Ryder Cup, recently attended a friend's benefit event and did not touch his golf clubs for two weeks.
"For me that's a long time," he said. "At 46, it seems like two months. I usually play three or four times a week. I don't take time off very often."
Participating in the Ryder Cup pumped new life into the veteran golfer who hasn't won an event since the Sony Open in Hawaii three years ago.
"It helps your mental attitude to playing the game," Goydos said. "You're with 24 of the best 36 players in the world. That's going to be good for your game."
Van Pelt, 20th on the money list, played the course consistently well after seeing it for the first time in Wednesday's Pro Am.
"Any time you go bogey free you're happy," Van Pelt said. "I wasn't going to play but decided to recommit. The one thing I haven't done is win this year. I wanted to take one more shot at it before I shut down for the year."
The tournament, the third of five Fall Series events, is in its first year at CordeValle Golf Club after three seasons at Grawhawk in Scottsdale, Ariz.