I’m only 24 years old so I’m just going off of my young memory of what I’ve witnessed on TV. I’m sure there are many more moments I could have referenced before my time.
Flashback to 2008, it was the U.S Open at San Diego’s Torrey Pines. Tiger Woods had one of the gutsiest and greatest major championship wins in history. Not only was this win incredible with the way that he was able to come back but it added another degree with him being physically handicapped with his left knee destroyed. Tiger literally was unable to walk at times and each shot panned to him grimacing in pain and barely able to walk. Still Tiger persevered.
The entire tournament was a back and forth battle that saw a tight leaderboard and a lot of question marks throughout. Tiger had an incredible finish to take the lead going into the final round on Sunday. He was known for not relinquishing a lead in majors but his left knee was a huge question mark. The man could barely walk, how was he supposed to hold it together for another grueling 18 holes on Sunday and compete at a level that would win the U.S Open?
Sunday came and Tiger was not flashy, in fact he was proving everyone right thinking that he would not be able to stay in it. No one would blame Tiger for the fact that he couldn’t compete on one leg. However, Tiger Woods is no ordinary human being. Tiger did what he does best and he grinded it out. Everything came down to the 18th hole; a dead straight par 5 with a small pond protecting the front left part of the green. Tiger needed birdie to tie the clubhouse leader Rocco Mediate. Watching everything play out on live television I thought this was in the bag. Tiger on a par 5 with the pressure on? He’ll probably make an eagle and win it right here.
Not so fast, his drive went way left and he was stuck on the tee grimacing in pain. His second shot was a forced layup that he was not able to keep in the fairway. Now we have Tiger from about 100 yards out needing to get up and down from here to tie Rocco Mediate. The TV screens pan to Rocco doing his best not to show any emotion. He knows he is in a great position and feels he might actually dodge a bullet from Tiger on a Sunday, but he doesn’t want to count his chickens before they hatch. It is Tiger after all.
Tiger hits his third shot and lands it about 10-12 feet from the pin. He has a downhill sliding putt from left to right to take it to an 18 hole playoff on Monday (just what he needs with his knee). Everyone is on the edge of their seat. The entire audience is surrounding this small 18th green hoping to witness magic happen.With everything on the line and nothing left in the tank, Tiger steps up and slams the putt home. Torrey Pines went wild! Sixteen year old me was going crazy in my parent’s basement.
Tiger needed surgery on his knee and was done for the season after the U.S Open. Tiger still was able to persevere and beat Mediate in the 18 hole playoff the next day. Tiger on one leg was better than Rocco on two (sorry Rocco). It was such an incredible display of mental toughness and determination. It was the “Jordan Flu Game” of golf.
Unfortunately, who knew that would be the last major Tiger has won in 8 years.