Mal Florence, who died in 2003 at age 77 after more than 50 years as a Times sportswriter, used to say he'd like to come back in another life as a professional golfer.
"I wouldn't want to be a Tiger Woods, that would be tough," Florence often said. "But a good golfer, maybe in the top 10. I'd give the media great quotes, and I'd have a blast."
Maybe Florence's soul found its way into Rocco Mediate's body. It's hard to imagine anyone having more fun being a professional golfer.
Mediate finished eight shots back of winner Kenny Perry at the PGA Tour's Buick Open in Michigan last weekend after barely making the cut. But he was all smiles, as usual, during an interview with the Golf Channel's Adam Barr.
Mediate noted the energy he was feeling from the gallery and "that airplane thing." A plane flying overhead was towing a banner that read: "Guts, Passion, Fun -- Thanks Rocco."
"I can't imagine what it would be like if I had actually won," Mediate said, referring to his U.S. Open playoff loss to Woods.
As for all the media attention he has been getting, Mediate said, "I like to talk, so it fits right in with me."
Where did Mediate play college golf and what former U.S. Open champion was a teammate?
Don't try this
At the Nationwide Tour's Wayne Gretzky Classic in Collingwood, Canada, Brett Hull and partner Colt Knost won the pro/celebrity competition. Hull also put on a demonstration for Golf Channel cameras, trying to hit a golf ball with a hockey stick.
After badly topping a "slap shot," Hull tried swinging the stick as if it were a golf club.
That didn't work either. The stick hit the ground, the blade broke off and went flying, and the ball remained on the tee.
Lots of repeats
PGA Tour tournaments where Woods is in contention average a 4.3 television rating. The final two rounds of the Buick Open on CBS, without Woods, got overnight ratings of 1.0 and 1.5.
The final two rounds of the Women's U.S. Open on NBC got ratings of 1.4 and 1.6.
But David Thomas of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram hasn't given up on golf.
"I'm not buying into the notion that people won't watch golf with Tiger out," he wrote. "I know I'll keep watching the final round of the U.S. Open I recorded."
This flip flops
From Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: "I've got a plan to get Tiger Woods back on course a lot sooner following his surgery. Flip-flop. Play left-handed. Put the dangerous torque on the good knee while the other knee heals. If Phil Mickelson can switch from righty to lefty, so can Tiger."
Just in case you couldn't get enough of Shaquille O'Neal a) rapping, or b) ripping on Kobe Bryant, you can now have both.
On your cellphone.
Shaq was recently caught on video while on stage at a New York nightclub, taunting his former Lakers teammate by rapping such lyrics as, "You know how I be; last week Kobe couldn't do without me" and asking -- repeatedly -- "Kobe, tell me how my [expletive] tastes."
FunMobility is offering the performance as a free download by visiting wwwFunMo.com. Also offered for a price is a ring tone "mashup" of the rap and a "JibJab-style animation with the mashup soundtrack."
Just remember to turn it off in church.
Mediate played at Florida Southern, located near scenic Lake Hollingsworth in Lakeland. Lee Janzen, who won U.S. Open titles in 1993 and '98, was Mediate's teammate when the Moccasins won an NCAA Division II title in 1985. They won again in '86, after Mediate had turned pro, and Janzen also won the Division II individual title that year.
Defensive end Ray Edwards, who had five sacks in his second season with the Minnesota Vikings in 2007, says he will break Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22 1/2 sacks, set in 2001. Said Strahan on FSN's "Best Damn Sports Show Period": "Ray Edwards plays where? Honestly, no disrespect, but if you didn't put his picture up there, I wouldn't have known who the guy was."