Two nights ago, I was glad that I decided to stay up and watch Star Sports channel instead of live Euro 2008. It’s not everyday you get to see greatness in action. Tuesday’s morningВ climax at Torrey Pines US Open exhibited just that.
Whilst the live footie channels showcased some dull last Group B matches between Germany-Austria and Poland-Croatia, Tiger Woods took on unfancied Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole dramatic playoff which eventually dragged to an extra sudden death hole after Woods buried a birdie at the 18th (yet again!) to extend the Championship.
His 14th Major triumph may have been easily overlooked as “Yet another Tiger pick-up” but fans that have been following events at this Open may find it hard to argue that this victory here may be perhaps his grittiest, gutsiest, bestest ever.
I found this article from Yahoo Sports editor Michael Arkush which captures Tiger’s victorious momentВ in great detail. As for me, I am still awestruck by his never-say-die attitude and unbelievable focus which brought him this win.
Number of the Day:
91 – Holes Tiger had to play through his wounded knee over 5 days of tortourous golf at Torry Pines to secure victory.
Tiger Delivers Best Performance Yet
SAN DIEGOВ вЂ“ The first major will always be special, coming where it did for a man of his race, at Augusta National, and how he did it, crushing the field by 12 strokes. An era was officially launched, as spectacular as his out-of-orbit drives, and it is still soaring.
The era has changed the game forever, and the accomplishments by Tiger Woods have become so extraordinary that nothing he pulled off вЂ“ the four-straight major victories, the 15-stroke triumph in the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, the string of six consecutive wins, etc. etc., could possibly ever surprise us again.
No longer is the 1997 Masters the most impressive achievement of his career. The new standard belongs to the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, and itвЂ™s likely that it will never be matched.
This wasnвЂ™t a healthy Tiger who could execute almost any task on demand. This was an injured Tiger who hadnвЂ™t played a PGA Tour event in two months or even walked a full 18 holes before Thursday.
This wasnвЂ™t a flawless Tiger who intimidated countless opponents (Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie, Stephen Ames, take your pick) from the first tee to the final green, failing to provide them with even the slightest hope.
This was something new and unusual and disturbing, a fallible Tiger, who struck as many poor shots as good ones. He recordedВ four double bogeys, two in the first round. Yet whenever he needed the booming drive or the bomb putt, he came through, over and over again.
Rocco Mediate, his courageous victim in MondayвЂ™s 18-hole playoff that went to sudden death, put it most succinctly: вЂњI donвЂ™t know what else you can say.вЂќ
Even Woods agreed this performance belongs on top of his list.
вЂњThis week had a lot of doubt to it,вЂќ he explained. вЂњYou just keep pushing and pushing and I did all week.вЂќ
He could easily have packed it in, and people wouldвЂ™ve given him a pass. The way he walked and the way he winced, the pain was obvious to everyone. Maybe, as he said, it didnвЂ™t hinder the execution of any particular shot, but to know that, at any moment, a horrible pain might come to his damaged knee is not the kind of thought you want when youвЂ™re trying to win an Open. You want to be thinking about how to reach the fairway or green and nothing else.
Jim Colbert, who plays on the Champions Tour these days, has undergone four knee operations. He, too, has no doubt this triumph should rank as No. 1.
вЂњI canвЂ™t tell you the guts it takes to do what he did,вЂќ Colbert said. вЂњThey had kept him going for four days and all of a sudden, they had to keep it going for a fifth. ThatвЂ™s a severe shooting pain. IвЂ™ll be surprised if he plays again this year.вЂќ
Woods, of course, would never pack in. вЂњItвЂ™s not in my nature,вЂќ he said. вЂњI donвЂ™t know how to do that.вЂќ
Each day, he produced something memorable.
On Thursday, paired with local hero Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott, Woods made three par-saving putts of at least 15 feet, salvaging a 1-over 72. He could have easily fired a 74 or 75, leaving himself too much ground to make up on a course that was never going to yield a bushel of birdies.
On Friday, after a mediocre 38, he recorded a 5-under 30 on his second nine, which included three 20-footers and a curving 15-footer. He was only one stroke back.
More drama ensued Saturday, starting at the par-5 13th when he made that most improbable eagle by sinking a putt of more than 60 feet. Then there was the chip-in birdie at 17, when the ball hit the flagstick on a bounce, and the 40-foot bomb at 18 for the closing eagle that gave him the halfway lead.
On Sunday came the 12-foot birdie putt that put him in the playoff with Mediate. Finally, on Monday, after botching a three-shot advantage with eight holes to go, which a Tiger in his typical form would never do, he managed to produce the birdie he needed at 18 to extend the duel.
Yet it wonвЂ™t just be the shots that we remember from this particular performance. There have been more impressive shots for more than a decade now, and there are sure to be more to come.
This time, weвЂ™ll remember the manner in which he overcame his own limitations, how he fought off the pain, day after day, hole after hole, even when he had to go 91 holes.
He probably shouldnвЂ™t have played, and how lucky we are that he did.
He may never have a finer moment.
(Originally posted on allandog.multiply.com)