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Rocco Mediate to play in Open after all

Rocco Mediate said he'll play in the Open next week, but not because Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus criticized him for saying he'd skip the tournament because he had no chance to win.

After a disappointing showing in the U.S. Open in Farmingdale, N.Y., last month, Mediate said it would be ``a waste of time'' to play in the British Open.

``If you can't win somewhere, why go?'' Mediate said.

Palmer and Nicklaus, playing at a charity tournament several days later, criticized Mediate, a five-time PGA Tour winner ranked No. 12 in the world, and said today's golfers don't have the competitive drive they should.

Palmer views himself as a mentor to Mediate, who grew up near Palmer's home in Latrobe. Wiping away mock tears, Palmer said of Mediate's comments, ``I couldn't believe what I was hearing.''

Mediate called Palmer to explain that his chronically bad back -- not a lack of spine -- prompted his remarks.

Mediate, who withdrew from the Open because of back pain after an opening-round 73 last year, said he's leaving for Scotland on Friday. The Open begins July 18 at Muirfield Golf Club. Mediate plans to fly to Scotland in Phil Mickelson's private plane.

``I don't let what anyone says affect my decisions. I'm a big boy,'' Mediate said, adding Nicklaus and Palmer ``didn't have any influence on my decision.''

But Mediate said the subject came up when he played with Palmer on Sunday at the elder statesman's home course, Latrobe Country Club.

``After playing with him this weekend, I'm convinced he could win the British Open, hands down,'' Palmer said. ``His ability to make the shots is ironclad.''

Mediate said he now sees Palmer's rebuke in a new light.

``The fact that Mr. Palmer said what he said at first was kind of a little flattering,'' Mediate said. ``If he didn't care he wouldn't have said anything. He probably thought, 'What in the world is this guy doing, not going to the Open?'''

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