Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Best Major Ever

Well, since I've been following. Granted, I'm unapologetically a huge Tiger fan. Like Michael Jordan, his contributions to his sport make his career a moment in history that others will be envious for not having seen firsthand.

But the US open this year was pretty amazing for several reasons. Phil Mickelson's quadruple bogey (he hit a chip that rolled off the green 25 feet back to his feet - 3 times in a row!). The length of the course, a monstrous 7,600 plus yards. The closeness of the field - I think the top 20 were all within 4 strokes of each other on the last day. That might not really seem like much, but it showed in the play - nobody was blowing up. Speaking of which, Lee Westwood, Tiger's matched golfer on the last day, kept up the whole time, actually having an opportunity to be in the playoff until the last putt.

Rocco Mediate, who is a sort of jittery everyman/journeyman weirdo, was just amazing. He helped bring golf back to a simple place. He had some stellar approach shots, but mostly, he showed what you can do with a steady stream of pars, and avoiding bogeys. No eagles, and few birdies got him to the playoff.

And then, there was Tiger. I can't believe this guy - you could see his face twisting in pain on almost every drive. At certain points he was concealing a hobbling limp. His ability to hit fairways was dismal, but it shows his greatness. He can make shots from anywhere. Take the fairway bunker shot from yesterday, where he cleared a dog log with a smashing power draw. From the sand! Craziness. He dropped some crazy long putts, particularly on saturday, with a 65 footer, and another long putt that gave him the eagle that pushed him into the lead.

Tiger also gained and lost the lead repeatedly, a trend that continued into the playoff. Usually, when Tiger gets the lead, he keeps it. This time, he really had to grind. Behind on the last hole, he birdied to force an 18 hole playoff. No, not a sudden-death playoff. 18 holes of golf.

And then there was monday. I had to make the executive decision to cut my day short to watch this - and it was well worth it. Twitchy everyman Rocco versus the superior, but wounded Tiger. I've never been able to watch two players hit every shot and every putt. It was amazing. And again, Tiger took the lead, had it up to 3, and lost it. He was down by on on the 18th, and did it again - and forced a sudden death playoff. It was only until the 19th hole, that the wheels fell off Rocco's cart.

Tiger earned that win, and by pushing it so far, Rocco earned major kudos (he also jumped something like 110 slots on the world golf ranking list, so live is about to get very nice for him). And with that, Tiger is at 14 major victories, with 4 left to tie Nicklaus.

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