U.S. SENIOR OPEN
Former Teammates Enjoy Friendly Vibes, Low Scores June 28, 2018 | Colorado Springs, Colo. By Dave Shedloski

Rocco Mediate (left) and Lee Janzen, former college teammates, always enjoy playing together in competition. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

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Friends are supposed to have a wonderful day when they play golf together. Perhaps not surprisingly, that even goes for a day on the course at a national championship.

That was certainly the case Thursday morning in the opening round of the 39th U.S. Senior Open Championship for Rocco Mediate, Lee Janzen and Marco Dawson.

The trio, former teammates at Florida Southern College, who together won the NCAA Division II national team championship in 1985, were delighted to see that they are paired together for the first two rounds.. And they had a blast.

"We would have enjoyed it no matter what we shot. I love those guys," Dawson said.

As it turned out, they all played exceedingly well. Mediate, runner-up to Tiger Woods in the 2008 U.S. Open, carded a 2-under 68 that was tied for the lead in the early wave. Janzen, who has two U.S. Open titles, was right behind with a 69. And Dawson rallied late for a 71.

"It's the best ever. We had a ball," said Mediate, who visited the East Course with Janzen a month ago to get in a scouting trip – which apparently paid off. "Lee and I have become even closer friends out here because we see each other more. But we've been buddies since ’82. Marco is great. Everybody played pretty good today, pretty solid golf today. A lot of fun. A lot of fun."

Marco Dawson counted Mediate and Janzen as teammates on Florida Southern's 1985 national title team. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

So, it was a lot of fun. Hey, it helps playing with friends, right?

"It could be," Mediate cautioned. "Sometimes it's not good. But Lee and I have gotten over that. First, we played together back in the '90s, when he got out there, we played crap. Because we just were trying to beat each other – but now we're just playing. So it's better now. Sometimes it could be bad. Almost too relaxed."

Janzen concurred: "We have played so much golf together over the years that I would say we are just comfortable together,” he said. “The banter was just sort of like a practice round setting. Maybe that had something to do with all of us playing pretty well."

Each man has had a decent run in this championship, with Dawson and Janzen tying for fifth in 2014 and 2015, respectively, while Mediate tied for third in his debut in 2013.

Mediate and Janzen partnered this year in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf, a two-player event, finishing tied for 19th. They also won the Shark Shootout in 2002, and Dawson has played with his teammates in various PGA Tour Champions events. "But we've never gotten the chance to play the three of us together, so that was very cool," Dawson said.

"And we get to do it again tomorrow."

They go off the 10th tee at 1:43 p.m. MDT Friday. “We’ll all be grinding,” Mediate said. “But we’re all going to enjoy being around each other, too.”

These longtime friends would like nothing more than to continue their reunion tour well into the weekend.

Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.

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