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Mediate details struggles with alcohol: I drank while playing

Amid a career that included six PGA Tour victories and a notable playoff loss, Rocco Mediate revealed that his days and weeks inside the ropes included a constant companion: alcohol.

Speaking with Golf Channel’s Vince Cellini in an interview for the latest episode of PGA Tour Champions Learning Center, the 56-year-old described himself as a “habitual alcoholic” and shared that he gave up drinking on Oct. 23, 2017.

“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.”

Mediate’s trophies spanned generations, winning for the first time at Doral in 1991 and for the sixth time at the 2010 Safeway Open. He has added three more victories since turning 50, including the 2016 Senior PGA Championship. But Mediate is perhaps best known for finishing second, having lost to Tiger Woods in a memorable playoff at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Mediate struggled with back injuries throughout his career, and he admitted to drinking as a way to cope with the pain – including, at times, during competition.

“Absolutely I have (played while drinking). Because it was just normal for me. It was just a daily ritual, let’s say,” Mediate said. “You can put it in a lot of places. A lot of places. Was it every time? No. But most of the time when the pain came in, it wasn’t not going to happen.”

The names of Mediate and Woods have been linked ever since their 91-hole duel at Torrey Pines. Mediate shared that his personal struggles made him more sympathetic toward Woods’ plight when the 14-time major champ was arrested and cited for DUI in May 2017.

“When that happened, I went, ‘Mm-hmm, yeah. I just didn’t get caught,’” Mediate said. “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.’”

Woods’ arrest came in the midst of a disappointing year on the course for Mediate, one that included just one top-10 finish in 18 starts. After discussions with his wife, Mediate decided in October of that year to give up alcohol on the spot.

“I actually didn’t know what I was going to feel. I was hoping that I didn’t need to have it,” he said. “I didn’t need alcohol, I just wanted it. I enjoyed it. Simple as that. If I woke up and I was like, ‘Oh God,’ then we have some serious problems called rehab. Didn’t want to have to do that. Had a small headache for about four hours, and that was the end. Done.”

For more details on Mediate’s journey, tune in to PGA Tour Champions Learning Center at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday on Golf Channel.