Tiger Woods Captures 2008 U.S. Open Title in Dramatic Fashion
Tiger Woods does it again in dramatic fashion at the U.S. Open. After four grueling rounds at Torrey Pines, in which it was evident that his surgically repaired left knee was bothering him, it took an 18-hole playoff against Rocco Mediate and an additional one-hole sudden-death playoff to capture his third U.S. Open Victory. This third win puts Tiger one back of Jack Nicklaus’ four U.S. Open wins and four back of Nicklaus’ eighteen major victories.
On Sunday, Rocco stood in the scoring room watching the theatrics unfold on TV as Tiger made but yet another clutch putt in a career filled with clutch moments. “Unbelievable,” Mediate said. “I knew he’d make it.”
They finished at 1-under 283 after four rounds, the first time since 2004 that someone broke par at the U.S. Open. Mediate finished with an even par 71, missing a chance to eliminate Tiger when his wedge to the 18th green stayed on top of a ridge 30-feet from the hole. Mediate two–putted for par. It looked like it may be enough when Woods and Westwood, both one shot back, hit into the bunker on each side of the fairway on the 527 yard closing hole and had to lay up. Tiger’s bunker shot headed right into the rough and found an old divot while Westwood hit his into the left side of the fairway. From there, both players managed to hit their shots to about 15-feet, where Tiger was the only one to make his putt. “It feels very similar to what Valhalla felt like,” Woods said. “If I didn’t make that putt, I don’t get a chance to continue to keep playing. At best, I gave myself a chance to win the tournament tomorrow, and that’s all I can ask for.”
Woods wasn’t sure he could make it on Sunday, with a left knee that progressively got worse since the opening round, his first round of golf since knee surgery to clean out cartilage on April 15th. He shot 73 and made it into Monday’s playoff for the third time in a major championship, this one being 18-hole stroke play. Could the knee take one more round of Golf? “It’s going to have to,” Woods replied.
On Monday, Woods clinched his 14th major victory after defeating Mediate. Monday’s playoff saw the 18-hole battle result in yet another tie and the match went to a single hole sudden-death playoff in which Rocco could not match a par from Woods.
Mediate, 45, bogeyed the 1st hole and was three shots back of Woods at thee over par after ten holes. Tiger then proceeded to make two consecutive bogeys letting Rocco back into the match. Rocco then made three straight birdies and lead after the 15th hole putting the pressure squarely on Tiger’s shoulders. On the 18th hole, Mediate had an 18-foot putt left to claim victory, but could not make it fall after watching Tiger make his birdie put to bring the match all square. On the first sudden-death playoff hole Mediate could not sink his par put to equal Tiger and once again the world’s #1 player found himself with a dramatic victory.
“This is probably the greatest tournament I’ve ever had,” Woods said afterward, paying tribute to the 25,000 spectators that stayed to witness the epic battle.
“Everyone thought I’d get my ass handed to me, but I didn’t,” Mediate exclaimed, regarding the fact that the majority of the sporting world thought the match would be a route for Woods. Mediate showed that at age 45 he still has some solid golf left in him after facing so much adversity over the last several years with injuries. Hats off to Rocco Mediate for his spectacular play and staying shot for shot with the world #1. In the end, Tiger claimed one more victim and one more victory. The legend continues…