Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tiger Captures a Dramatic 3rd U.S. Open

Tiger holds 3rd US Open trophy "...the best player that ever played."

Rocco Mediate described Tiger Woods as such Sunday following the number one ranked player's clutch birdie (one below par) putt to force an 18-hole playoff Monday. Tiger had been one stroke behind the leader, made a few flawed shots on the final hole of what was the final round but stunned all with a bumpy 12-foot putt to finish with a share of the lead. The resulting playoff was possibly the greatest match seen in decades at the U.S. Open.

Monday's playoff match would decide the winner of the major tournament (think of it like over-time for golf). On one-hand if Tiger won he'd be the only player in history to win 7 PGA tour events on the same course, as well, surpass Ben Hogan in PGA tour wins, and match Jack Nicklaus by winning each major at least 3 times. Rocco Mediate on the other hand would be the oldest player to win a major. Win his first major, not to mention his first PGA tour win in 6 years. And lastly, as the World Ranked 158th player, have one of the largest upsets in golf history.

Unlike the regulation rounds Tiger started the playoff round well, hitting the first fairway and finishing on par through the first half of the match while Rocco finished 2 strokes over par. However his play wasn't the usual feat of dominance expected from Mr. Woods. The U.S. Open was actually Tiger's return from a third knee surgery (the first to remove a benign tumor, the second from the strain his powerful swing). In fact, the tournament's first round was the first time Woods had walked 18-holes since the surgery. Tiger winces following swingHe noticeably winced following particularly powerful swings and limped at times while vying overcome the course's challenges.

Though leading by 3 strokes after the 10th hole of the playoff Woods struggled to remain consistent and watched his lead dwindle to nothing by the 14th as a much needed birdie putt to maintain his one shot lead lipped out around the hole. Bad went to worse and Woods fell one behind Mediate on the 15th as he failed to match an excellent birdie putt by Rocco. Though the U.S. Open is the only major to still hold a full out 18-hole playoff the distinction became moot as Woods once again needed a birdie putt on the 18th to force a sudden death playoff and made a clutch putt once again.

The sudden death play saw the Cinderella story of Rocco Mediate fall upon the stark reality of battling Tiger Woods. Like many before him, the brilliance and at times luck shown before abandoned Mediate. While Tiger played par golf, Rocco's final tee shot sailed left into a sand trap along the fairway and the subsequent shot flew errant further left toward the cement cart path by the crowd. Rocco was forced to take a penalty shot and thus needed to make his first putt once he finally hit the green (putting surface). He missed. And like that, Tiger's much needed consistency came back just in time to hold off the fierce underdog Mediate to win the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines near San Diego, California.

Tiger kisses US Open trophyTiger later admitted that he played against his doctor's advice. In response to a question of whether re-injured his knee, Woods responded "maybe". He later added, "All athletes deal with injuries. Sports isn't usually kind to your body." The era of a perfectly healthy Tiger Woods may have come to an end, but his performance at Torrey Pines leaves no doubt that Sir Eldrick will continue to be a dominant force in his field.


That's right, here at AfroThought we put you up on golf. Ahem, elevate that which you call 'your game'. Anyway, it's funny how close everyone was to saying he was the best player ever, but no one except the cat that would have otherwise won the Open would outright admit it. You pros should be happy. He may never play the same again. You might stand a fighting chance now. Tournaments will be interesting for you again because you won't get blown out by 15 strokes (Woods holds the record for margin of victory in all majors). And if he wins you can still feel make yourself feel good by finally admitting he's the best athlete to ever play the sport.

P.S.> Why Tiger look like he doing the Dragonball Z power-up when he celebrates? (Go find the pictures. Dude goes Super-Saiyan.)

No comments: