Tiger Woods overcame a mediocre start, veteran's surge & wounded knee to win his 14th major golf tournament in sudden death at the 2008 US Open Championships, held in Torrey Pines, California. Woods birdied the 18th hole to force his good friend & fellow American 45 year-old Rocco Mediate into an 18-hole playoff. The US Open is the only major which takes a tie score among players after four rounds into another 18 holes.
Among his many incredible accomplishments, Woods has never lost a major when leading or sharing the lead after 54 holes. Though he took a one stroke lead into the final round, Mediate, Lee Westwood, Geoff Ogilvy & Ernie Els were right in the thick of things through the front nine. After Els & Ogilvy tailored off, Mediate, Westwood & Woods stood atop the leader board approaching the 16th hole. Westwood faltered on his second shot, leaving Woods & Mediate to battle the 18th, with history awaiting either player, as Mediate sought to become the oldest first time major champion.
After the first ten holes, Woods took a commanding three stroke lead & seemed to be on his way to an easy victory. As he'd admit his ups & downs of the tournament in a press conference later, Woods double-bogeyed 11 & bogeyed 12, while Mediate birdied the next three holes to take a one stroke lead into the 15th hole. They matched each other shot for shot going into the 18th hole. Mediate had a golden opportunity to win in front of a record-setting crowd with a birdie on the par five, yet his nerves got the best of him & he settled for a par, opening the door for Woods to create magic as only he can.
Both players survived 90 holes of golf, yet a sudden death hole was upon them, beginning with the par four 7th hole. Woods hit a massive tee shot, followed by an equally impressive tee from Mediate. Woods' second ball was just off the green, while Mediate's wayward drive almost hit a spectator & he was forced to take a ball drop. Woods nearly birdied the hole, coming inches from the cup & he tapped in his par, as Mediate looked on in awe. Mediate, one shot behind on the hole, had to sink the next shot to win & sadly fell short in the process.
Woods, the 32 year-old father of one, is now just four majors away from tying Jack Nicklaus' record 18 majors. Ironically, this victory came the day after Father's Day, with the spirit of his late father, Earl, encouraging him every step of the way. It was evident that Woods labored in pain throughout the tournament; at times he'd groan in agony after a hard drive. Some folks confused the expression on his face with disappointment - Woods is the ultimate perfectionist - yet, he was simply gutting it out & making no excuses.
When all is said & done, Tiger Woods will undoubtedly go down as the greatest golfer who ever played the game, once reserved for whites only. Before the tournament began, the media tried to create a buzz, or rivalry of sorts, between Woods & Phil Mickelson, otherwise known, in my opinion, as the 'great white hope of golf.' Mickelson started poorly & never recovered, finishing eight over par. Their so-called rivalry is an American myth that was never fully realized...
One of the greatest legacies in individual sports competition (such as boxing, golf & tennis) are rivalries that transcend difference & welcome diversity: Ali vs. Frazier, Leonard vs. Hearns, Nicklaus vs. Palmer, Borg vs. McEnroe, Evert vs. Navratilova, i.e. When Woods starting dominating the sport by winning majors at ease, many golf pundits became obsessed with finding a rival to generate intrigue, revenue & spectators. Mickelson would never meet the challenge because Woods is, as the Tina Turner song goes, "simply the best...better than all the rest...better than anyone."
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.