Woods versus Mediate in US Open playoff
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2008 US Open | Round Four | 16 Jun 2008
You had to see it to believe it and even then you may not have believed it. Tiger Woods holed a 14 foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole after being forced to lay up at the par five and has created an opportunity to win his 14th major. In doing so he may well have snuffed out a brave challenge from 45-year-old Rocco Mediate. The pair will face off in an 18 hole playoff tomorrow.
Lee Westwood was unable to emulate Woods’ effort at the last, his putt from 20 feet missing the hole to the right and the subsequent par ensuring he would finish alone in third place. For Westwood it is his best ever finish in major championship golf but he may well now be contemplating what might have been.
In yet another riveting day of US Open golf, Woods looked to have the tournament at his mercy following his brilliant finishing stretch on day three, which took him to the lead but the one question mark was whether his left knee could hold up as well as his heart. In the end, he needed both as it came down to the final putt on the final hole for Tiger.
Both sitting on even par and needing a birdie to make a playoff, Woods and Westwood missed the fairway at the 18th and had no option but to lay up short of the water at the par five. Woods had 105 yards to negotiate with his third shot and despite having a marginal lie in the rough, hit that 13 feet right of the flag.
Westwood finished 18 feet past and was first to putt. His putt curled away to the right and his challenge was gone but as is his want, the centre stage was left to Tiger. One last putt could decide the outcome of this event one way or the other. If it missed Rocco Mediate would become the oldest golfer ever to win the event and if he could make it he would keep alive his chances of his 14th and arguably his gutsiest win in major golf.
Referring to his last hole heroics after his round, Woods said, “I tried to play a cut off the tee and I kind of hit a pull cut, but ended up in the bunker. I had just an absolute pure lie, if I was in a practice round I would have gone for it. I stuck a 9-iron in the sand and hit it straight right. I was trying to play off the right side but not that far right.”
“I then had a 95 front, 101 hole. It was just a perfect number for my 56, but didn’t think that I could stop a 56 in there, so I tried—if I hit a 56 I had to hit it short of the green, bounce it in, and that wasn’t going to be the shot. We decided to go with 60, hit it hard, make sure you play to the right, just in case it doesn’t get there.”
“If it does, it should land on the front and skip past and I should have a putt at it. And it turned out perfect. The putt was—probably about two and a half balls outside right. And the green wasn’t very smooth. I kept telling myself make a pure stroke, if it bounces in or out, so be it, at least I can hold my head up high and hit a pure stroke. I hit it exactly where I wanted it to and it went in.”
Mediate summed it up his own thoughts after the round. “I have nothing left right now. I’m toast. It was the most amazing day of golf I’ve ever experienced. Tomorrow is going to be pretty amazing too but today was absolutely remarkable.”
“I’ve never been there like that before. And I just found out what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter how you get it in, you’ve just got to get in and trust what you’ve worked on all your life.”
“The putting – there’s no technical anything going on, it’s all – make the ball go where you want it to go. It’s amazing. The thing that’s most amazing is the man I’m going to play tomorrow has won 13 of these. It’s amazing how much it takes. I gave all of what I had today and I can’t complain. I knew he’d make that putt.
Tomorrow, Woods and Mediate will meet at 9.00am (2.00am Australian EST on Tuesday morning) with either a first time major champion or 14 time major champion, the winner. Woods will be forced to go one more day on his troublesome knee while Mediate will need all his 22 year PGA Tour experience to hold him out.
D.J. Trahan and Robert Karlsson finished in a share of fourth two shots behind Westwood while Miguel Angel Jimenez, Carl Pettersen and John Merrick shared 6th.
Geoff Ogilvy finished as the best of the Australians in a share of 9th, Rod Pampling was 14th, Robert Allenby was 18th, Adam Scott 26th, Aaron Baddeley 29th, Stuart Appleby 36th and Jarrod Lyle 48th.
The US PGA Tour now moves to Hartford in Connecticut for this week’s Travelers Championship.