Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Beware the wounded Tiger

So I have a confession to make. I did something that I've never done before and perhaps never will again. I watched four consecutive days of golf. I didn't mean for it to happen, somehow it just did. As a sports fan, I've followed golf for a number of years and I know who's who but I could never just sit and watch a tournament.

The weather here in Ottawa was unsettled and stormy, that could be how I ended up on NBC. The San Diego sun shinning brightly on one of the most beautiful courses I have ever seen. The first few fairways that run along the ocean side are breathtaking. There are many small golf courses in the world that I'm sure some golfers would call a waste of real estate but Torrey Pines is certainly not one of them. The par 3 - Third with the Pacific ocean as a back drop is simply amazing.

Going in to the 108th US Open there was one big question on every mind, fans and sports writers. Could Tiger Woods win his third US Open two months after knee surgery? He had yet to walk 18 holes in practise going in to the 7,634 yard Torrey Pines course, how could he play through four days and 72 holes? This course was the longest in US Open history and the general consensus was, if any player can win under these conditions, it would be Tiger Woods.

No one could have; or even would have suggested it would take 91 holes for Tiger to win the 1.35 million dollar prize for his 14th Major win, leaving him only four behind Jack Nicklaus in Major tournament victories. Ranked 158th in the world going in to the Open, second place finisher Rocco Mediate was playing the best golf of his life and clearly having the time of his life as he earned 810 thousand dollars and new fans around the world for matching Tiger stroke for stroke. Mediate now jumps to number 47 on the world rankings.

During the Saturday coverage, I felt it was finally time to change the channel when Tiger went well in to the rough and behind a TV tower on the 13th. But this is Tiger Woods so I decided to watch him play on to the green.Then the magic started. A long drive that skipped past the flag to the edge of the green set up a sixty five foot putt for Eagle. Even though he and Rocco would play another twenty four holes, in my opinion that was the moment the tournament was won.

Tiger had never lost when leading going in to the final day of a tournament and was 10-1 in playoffs. Remarkable numbers when you consider that unlike other sports, Tiger starts with the same score as one hundred and forty nine other golfers and almost every time he is in control by the end of day three. It may be awhile before I tune in to another golf tournament but I certainly have a new respect for the work these men do.

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