U.S. Open runner-up among 19 to receive sponsor exemptions to 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard
Rocco Mediate will get his wish – another chance to make Arnold Palmer proud.
Mediate was among the 19 players who received sponsor exemptions to the 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, scheduled for the week of March 23-29 at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Florida.
In a hand-written note to Palmer requesting the exemption, Mediate wrote: “I would once again love to play in your tournament. I tried so hard to make you proud last June at the U.S. Open. I hope to have another opportunity to do so at Bay Hill.”
At the U.S. Open Mediate, who had five career victories at age 45, became a hero to millions of golf fans as he battled through 19 playoff holes before finishing second to Tiger Woods, age 32, the world’s No. 1 golfer, with 65 career victories including 14 major championships.
“They say that nobody remembers who finished second in a golf tournament,” Palmer said. “I don’t think that will be the case with the 2008 U.S. Open and Rocco Mediate.”
Woods is the defending and five-time champion of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He has until Friday March 20 to commit to the PGA Tour that he will be at Bay Hill this year. If Woods plays, this would be the first tournament since the U.S. Open to include both Woods and Mediate. Woods had surgery on his left knee in June and did not play again until last month.
Mediate, who is from Greensburg, Pennsylvania, close to Palmer’s home in Latrobe, will be playing for the 21st year (not consecutive) at Bay Hill, where his best finish was second place in 2007, two strokes behind champion Vijay Singh.
Sponsor exemptions also went to three others who have played at Bay Hill for more than 20 years: Corey Pavin will be making his 25th appearance, along with Brad Faxon (23rd) and Billy Andrade (21st). Andrade’s total is consecutive, as he has not missed a year since starting in 1988. Faxon placed second at Bay Hill in 1995 and tied for second in 2003.
In addition to Pavin, the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup captain and 1995 U.S. Open champion, exemptions went to 2006 U.S. Ryder Cup captain and 1996 British Open champion Tom Lehman, 1993 and 1998 U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen, and 2001 British Open champion David Duval. Lehman tied for fifth at Bay Hill in 2007 and tied for eighth last year.
Others receiving exemptions included Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa, whose position as a foreign player designated by Commissioner Tim Finchem was announced earlier.
In the category of eight PGA Tour regular or past champion members, exemptions went to Andrade, Faxon, Janzen, Lehman, Mediate, Brian Davis, Jason Gore, and Skip Kendall.
In the category of two players from the top 25 finishers in the 2008 Qualifying Tournament and the 2008 Nationwide Tour, exemptions were given to Greg Owen, who was second at Bay Hill in 2006, and Harrison Frazar.
Eight unrestricted exemptions were awarded to Pavin, Duval, 2008 Southern Amateur champion Kyle Stanley, Erik Compton, D.A. Points, Steve Flesch, Notah Begay, and Vaughn Taylor.
For tickets or more information on the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, log on to the tournament web site, www.arnoldpalmerinvitational.com or call the Bay Hill ticket office at 407-876-7774 or toll free at 1-866-764-4843. Tournament proceeds benefit the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and theWinnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies.