THE LEGEND GROWS: Tiger Woods battled a wounded knee, a tough U.S. Open course, a fan-favorite underdog and his own swing and somehow still managed to win his third U.S. Open Championship and his 14th career major.
Even for Tiger standards - which are already off the charts high - this week ranked way up there on the thrills and chills meter. There was Tiger's Saturday night primetime show with the pair of late eagles and his chip-in, then the mind-blowing clutch putt on the 72nd hole in regulation that forced the sudden death playoff. He finished off his week with a birdie on the 90th hole to extend the playoff and finally won the title one hole later. He was then joined by his daughter Sam and wife Elin to cap off a truely incredible week.
HEARTBREAK: Rocco Mediate battled back from a three-shot deficit to take a one-stroke advantage to the 18th hole against the world's No. 1 player only to see his hopes dashed with a bogey on the first hole of sudden death, the 91st hole in the championship.
Rocco was centimeters – literally centimeters – from being a U.S. Open champion on Sunday. On Monday he was one hole away from being a U.S. Open champion. Alas, what everyone knew would happen - including himself - happened. He was up against not only Tiger but the legend of Tiger as well. But the legend of Rocco was born as well this week, as the fans at Torrey - and the untold millions watching around the world - were pulling for the 45-year-old underdog to make history. He came up short, but at the same time he came up big.
REST KNEEDED: Woods admitted after his victory that he disobeyed doctor's order so that he could play in the U.S. Open. He then was vague with the press after his triumph as to when he would return to competition.
Tiger's knee will likely be a problem for him over the remainder of the year -- if not longer. We'd expect to see him at the Open Championship, but Tiger's not much on letting people in on his plans. For the sake of the game, we hope Tiger returns ASAP and as healthy as possible.
PRIMETIME SATURDAY: The USGA's decision to put all four rounds in primetime on the East Coast paid off beautifully, especially the first night of the weekend on Saturday when Tiger was featured in the second-to-last pairing.
And what a wild night it was, with Tiger producing some of the most incredible and memorable golf of his career. There was the 65-foot bomb for eagle at 13, then the chip-in for birdie at 17 and then another long eagle at the closing hole to take over the outright lead of the championship. And doing this all while being in obvious pain from his recently repaired knee. Golf fans watching the theater will never forgot that evening and those 'casual fans' who had tuned in might just put Tiger on their 'must see TV' list from now on.
LEFTY BLUES: Phil Mickelson posted rounds of 71-75-76-68 to finish seven strokes off the winning pace and in a tie for 18th. Mickelson has only one top-10 finish in the last eight major championships.
Much was made about Mickelson and his San Diego roots and his storied history at Torrey Pines, he himself calling this 'a chance of a lifetime.' After a so-so start paired with Tiger the first two days, his dream of winning a U.S. Open title in front of his hometown fans came crashing down with a disastrous quadruple bogey at the par-5 13th on Saturday. Perhaps the only good news was that he didn't have to go through another heartbreaking, near miss.
TORREY’S STORY: From the ‘fairness’ of the setup of Torrey Pines that the players raved about; to the excitement of all four (five) rounds; to the dream pairing of Tiger, Lefty and Scott; to golf in primetime, it could be argued that the biggest winner of the week was the USGA.
The performance by the ‘Blue Coats’ this week seemed almost like a shot across the bow of the ‘Green Jackets,’ bringing plenty of thrills to a major championship while maintaining a high degree of difficulty. Granted, they benefited greatly from a Herculean effort by the world’s No. 1, but hats off to the USGA for doing a fantastic job of bringing us a week of golf to remember with plenty of fireworks and drama.
BIG NAMES … OUT: Some big names suffered the wrath of the U.S. Open, and failed to make the cut. For the 19th straight year there was no repeat winner at this championship as Angel Cabrera failed to make it to the weekend. Other names included K.J. Choi, 2007 Masters’ champ Zach Johnson, long hitters J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson, and Europeans Justin Rose and Colin Montgomerie..
History suggests that the struggles of Angel Cabrera should not surprise anyone; with the yearly change in venue and overt difficulty of the U.S. Open, it is the toughest championship to defend. However, common sense suggests that the struggles of two of the biggest hitters on TOUR, in Watson and Holmes, on the longest U.S. Open setup should surprise a lot of people.
CALL ME ICARUS: Some recognizable names who made the cut actually found themselves in contention over the weekend … and when they realized this, they promptly tumbled right down the leaderboard (see Stuart Appbley, Davis Love III, Ernie Els and Robert Allenby).
It’s understandable that guys like Kevin Streelman and Justin Hicks would crumble after gaining a share of the first-round lead, but guys like Appleby, Love, Els and Allenby are supposed to be able to handle this kind of pressure on Saturday and Sunday. Fortunately for Love and Els, they already have at least one major to their credit. Appleby and Allenby don’t look like they’ll ever have such a luxury.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: David Dixon fired a 5-under 66 to win the Saint-Omer Open in France to earn his first career victory on the European Tour; The PGA TOUR announced last week that the AT&T Classic will not return to Atlanta in the 2009 season.
Dixon, an Englishman, began the day a full nine shots off the lead and went bogey-free for the day; All is not lost for golf fans in Atlanta as a Champions Tour event will likely replace the PGA TOUR stop.
Full Coverage - U.S. Open Championship
Contributions from writers and editors on the Golf Channel Digital team.
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