Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

Tiger's One-Legged Roar

Tiger Woods called it his best championship, and who are we to argue with him? After undergoing surgery on his left knee in April, Woods didn't play a tournament in the two months leading up to this year's U.S. Open. Yet, on the final hole of the last round, Woods trailed journeyman Rocco Mediate, already in the clubhouse, by just one stroke. If Mediate, the 45-year-old affable everyman, survived, he'd not only win his first major, but also become the oldest U.S. Open champ in history. After dropping his second shot on the par-5 18th into the rough, Woods was in trouble. But he hit an amazing chip to within 13-feet of the hole, which meant a birdie would produce an 18-hole playoff the next day. What do you think happened? Tiger, of course, sunk the putt, and the unlikely pair — Mediate was ranked 158th in the world — went shot-for-shot on Monday. As office productivity plummeted across the country, Rocco, down three strokes after 10 holes, roared back to take a one-stroke lead going into 18. But Tiger birdied the last hole again to force overtime, and he clinched the championship in the first hole of sudden death. And by the way, he won his 14th major on a broken left leg (that's not a misprint). Though the injury would force him to sit out the rest of '08, Tiger's one-legged triumph supplied a year's worth of memories.