October 23, 2017, is an important date for Rocco Mediate: It’s the day he decided to give up alcohol for good. In a revealing interview with Golf Channel’s Vince Cellini, Mediate revealed the extent of his alcoholism.
“I couldn’t tell you, since last October, years before that, a day I went without having a drink,” Mediate said. “I knew at the time that eventually it was going to get me.”
“The year of 2017 was a pretty a-ha moment,” Mediate continued. “In ’17, everything was just so bad. My golf game was just horrible. I felt like crap. It just wasn’t the right thing. I call myself a habitual alcoholic, because it was. And I was lucky, because if it’s dependent, or if it’s chemical, or if it’s hereditary — which I have no alcoholism in my family that I even know of, ever — then I got issues.”
On October 23 of 2017, Mediate says he woke up and wasn’t sure how he would feel.
“I was hoping I didn’t need to have it. I didn’t need alcohol. I just wanted it. I enjoyed it, simple as that. [After quitting drinking] I had a small headache for about four hours. That was the end. Done. Since then, I haven’t even sniffed, looked, wanted, or … There have been triggers. Pain. But it never triggered me enough.”
When Cellini asked if Mediate had ever played hungover, or even imbibed while competing, Mediate didn’t hesitate.
“Absolutely have,” Mediate replied. “Because it was just normal for me. It was just a daily ritual. Most people knew. Was it every time? No. Most of the time when the pain came in, it wasn’t not going to happen.”
Mediate also revealed he felt empathy for Tiger Woods after Woods’s Memorial Day DUI arrest.
“I completely get it,” Mediate said. “You’ll do anything to stop it, when you have this kind of pain. Wherever the pain is. When that happened [to Tiger] I thought, ‘Mmhm. Yeah. I just didn’t get caught.’ But when it comes to that type of pain, you’ll basically do whatever it takes to be able to go, oh, that feels better.”
Mediate has six career PGA Tour victories, spanning from 1991 to 2010, but he is perhaps best known for his memorable duel with Woods at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, in which Mediate finished second. He now plays the Champions Tour full time, and has three career victories, the most recent of which was the 2016 Senior PGA Championship.
You can watch the interview clip in its entirety here.