First Mark Brooks misfired with a long three-putt for bogey, leaving him one stroke behind Retief Goosen and Stewart Cink one hole behind. Then Cink landed in the greenside rough on 18, while Goosen hit a gorgeous approach shot 10 feet behind the hole.
Cink got his chip from the rough on the green, but 15 feet away. Then he collapsed in a three-putt stunner, the last being from two feet. Goosen was the winner if he could just two-putt from short range. He ran the first try three feet past. Then came another shocker ' he missed the comebacker.
The result ' the 101st U.S. Open goes to a fifth day with Goosen and Brooks the combatants. They will play 18 holes Monday, starting at 11 a.m. local time.
Retief Goosen can't explain his 3-putt on the 18th hole
Mark Brooks comments on his unexpected playoff berth
Its the saddest things Ive ever seen watching sports, said Paul Azinger.
I was sick to my stomach to see them both do that, said Rocco Mediate. Its almost not fair since they played better than anyone else. But thats golf.
Cink tried to explain what happened. I was playing not against the hole, but I was also playing against the situation that I needed to at least tie Retief on the hole or beat him, he said.
I thought that was a pretty crucial putt, because Retief had a gimmie two-putt. So after I hit my first putt and it didnt go in, it was really hard to concentrate on the next one, because I didnt think it meant that much.
Stewart Cink on his 3-putt
In fairness to those who suffered nightmares on the 18th, that green is slower than the other 17. The USGA had to allow it to grow longer so that balls would hold up on the putting surface. The result is, there is a little more grain in the grass and it has less speed.
You never see any grain on the greens, but there it is, said Brooks, who won the PGA Championship in a playoff in 1996. That pin was cut closer to the front than it was all week. It must have flattened out more than everyone was reading.
Goosen was baffled at his misses. Putting up the hill there, I just hit it too hard, he said. I hit right through the break.
'Then seeing what happened to Stewarts third putt breaking so much right, I saw my putt coming back just off center right ' and it went right on me.
Brooks three-putted from long range, a much more legitimate distance for a first miss, though the second putt of eight feet was a bit more disturbing.
I really misjudged the first one, said Brooks. I hit it on a perfect line and if Id had the right speed ' but thats the way it goes. My putt was probably 50-50. I probably overplayed the break, but its a little slower than the rest of the greens.
He was watching a locker room television when the twin fiascos occurred. A disbelieving Brooks came out in the sunshine to discover he still had life.
It was shocking ' it was shocking enough to see Stewart do his thing, and so I feel bad for both of them, he said.
And you hate to say it, but its like once a guy does it, all of a sudden its the power of suggestion, then thats miserable.
Brooks has had a tough time since winning the PGA. He changed club manufacturers immediately thereafter and went through some lean seasons. This year, hes tied for seventh at the Worldcom, but that is his only top ten.
Goosen has been a bit more successful in Europe. Since the Masters he has missed two cuts in five tries, but in the other three hes tied for seventh twice and in his last outing, at the Compass Group English Open, he tied for fifth.
The other Open contenders had a rough day Sunday. Mediate shot a 2-over 72. Sergio Garcia ballooned to a 77. Phil Mickelson self-destructed on the final 10 holes, shooting 5-over-par and a 75. Cink shot 72 and Azinger had a 1-over 71. Suddenly Tiger Woods didnt look nearly so bad for his 3-over 283 total, good for a tie for 12th.
I dont know exactly what I learned today, said a perplexed Mickelson. I think it was a difficult day for me, in that I didnt play the way I would have liked. I didnt have the same feeling that I did the first three rounds, where I really felt I could get to this golf course, make some birdies.
Brooks, though, is a surprise playoff participant. The pity is that someone couldnt three-putt and still get the victory. The 18th is still getting them, 24 years after Hubert Green bogeyed to win the U.S. Open in 1977.
They say its a lot harder to two-putt to win than it is to make a 15-footer for the win, said Brooks. I dont know, they say there is some kind of ghost around here. Nobody has ever parred 18 on Sunday to win a major.
Full-field scores from the 101st U.S. Open