Monday, June 16, 2008

Tiger Woods, Your U.S. Open Champion

As excruciating as it was to rely on intermittent Internet updates, in the long run it was probably good for my health, not to mention my sanity, that I didn’t watch the playoff on television. After the weekend, I’m not sure I could have withstood that level of drama. But when things moved to the 18th hole with Tiger trailing by one, I had to watch – and joined a handful of others to commandeer the one office in our building with a working television. Fortunately for the sake of our incursion, the owner of said office was at home waiting for air conditioner repair.

And what did we witness? Just some normal ho-hum stuff from Tiger. What’s that? I need to birdie the 18th hole of the U.S. Open for the second consecutive day just to stay alive in this thing? No problem.

It will take a while to put this triumph in perspective, but over time it may come to be appreciated as Tiger’s greatest and most impressive victory. As I said a couple of days ago, here was a guy who hadn’t play a round of competitive golf since April, and one who was prone to sharp pains in his surgically repaired knee at any given time. If nothing else, viewers got to hear Johnny Miller talk about torque more often than one would have thought possible. And yes, on a U.S. Open course, designed to punish less than a great shot and send the maker of a bad one through golf’s gates of Hades.

And yet, another win, in compelling and especially dramatic fashion. Some strange shots, some inexplicable decisions, some ill-timed temper tantrums (sometimes I wonder if Tiger realizes that he loses fans when he does the kind of stuff that he pulled on 18 yesterday?), and of course, some drama for the ages. Tiger’s back nine on Saturday was not perfect, but it is right up there with Nicklaus’ back nine at Augusta in 1986 for sheer drama – not to mention historical importance.

It will be interesting to see what happens now. Just how bad is the knee? Will we see Tiger at Royal Birkdale for the Open in July? Right now, nothing he does would surprise me.

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