Its mind-boggling what he did, said Strange, who won the event in 1998 at The Country Club in nearby Brookline. He was able to will his way to victory.
Strange earned his first major victory in the 88 Open by winning an 18-hole playoff against Nick Faldo, then won the tournament again the next year'hes the last player to win consecutive U.S. Opens'for his only other major.
Woods won his 14th career major Monday when he birdied No. 18 at Torrey Pines to force a playoff with Rocco Mediate, then birdied the 18th hole again in the playoff to send it into sudden death. His par on the 91st hole ended the tournament and his season: He announced the next day that he was playing despite a torn ligament and a double stress fracture in his left leg and will sit out the rest of the year.
This years Open'What a show! Strange said this week as he prepared for the Bank of America Championship at the par-72, 6,741-yard Nashawtuc Country Club.
The Champions Tour is hoping to work a little U.S. Open magic of its own this weekend, pairing Strange with fellow former winners Hale Irwin (1974, 79 and 90) and Scott Simpson (87). Also in the field are Gary Player (the 1969 winner, in a playoff), Jerry Pate (76) and Tom Kite (92).
Theyll try to put the brakes on Jay Haas, the defending champion who has won the last two events on the Champions Tour and has eight top-10 finishes in 11 tries. As the tour reaches midseason'its the 15th of 29 events'Haas leads Bernhard Langer by 258 points in the Charles Schwab Cup race and just under $100,000 on the money list.
I had a nice year before Des Moines, but it has turned into a great year, said Haas, who won the Senior PGA Championship before his victory in the Principal Charity Classic in Iowa three weeks ago. Long way to go, but Im thrilled to be in position.
Haas, who never won a major on the regular tour, said he watched much of the U.S. Open and was happy for Mediate as well. But he had the misfortune of going against a golfer who isnt just one of the all-time greats, but one of the toughest and strongest on tour as well.
Ninety-five percent of the players probably wouldnt have teed it up. Tigers physically fit, and that probably helped, Haas said. Tiger just wasnt going to lose. I didnt get too many opportunities to win a major. Youve got to be able to take advantage. Rocco didnt really lose it but you hate to let those opportunities go by.
Strange won in Brookline when Faldo bogeyed three of the last four holes. Ever since then, hes been a local favorite among fans who remember his victory.
My first memory of The Country Club is walking up 18 in the playoff with it won. I remember the support I got from the fans, said Strange, a Virginia native. They adopted a Southern boy that week.