During this past weekend’s 2019 Farmers Insurance Open Tiger was faced with a putt at the 18th hole on the Torrey Pines’ South Course, very similar to famous 72nd clutch putt to force a playoff at the 2008 U.S. Open. Of course, I had to log some time watching what is, most likely, Tiger’s most famous putt a few times, as well as, several highlights from the tournament.
Related: The Greatest Shot Ever Played
If you have 45 minutes, the included video, U.S. OPEN EPICS: Tiger and Rocco, is all around excellent. Tiger’s weekend grind, the putt on 18, Monday’s Playoff, and Rocco’s amazing play and class are all highlights in the short documentary.
2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines
It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 10 years since the 2008 U.S. Open and its epic 18-hole playoff at Torrey Pines.
Tiger Woods won his 3rd U.S. Open Title after defeating Rocco Mediate in a sudden-death playoff after the extra 18 still wasn’t enough to decide a winner.
The 2008 U.S. Open was the 108th installment of the U.S. National Championship and featured 7 past champions in addition to Tiger including Geoff Ogilvy, Retief Goosen, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Lee Janzen, Angel Cabrera, and Michael Campbell.
Unlike the Farmers Insurance Open where both the North and South course are utilized, the 2008 U.S. Open was played on the South Course only.
Tiger’s Knee at the 2008 U.S Open
The fact that Tiger won this tourney is still amazing. He hadn’t played competitive golf since the Masters that year and was fresh off arthroscopic knee surgery. This caused confusion for those watching on TV due to Tiger often grimacing in pain after hitting his tee shot.
It sometimes appeared as though Tiger was upset over the shot when in reality his knee was in some serious pain. The tee shots were often, in true Tiger fashion, just fine.
Tiger Woods at the 2008 U.S.Open
Tiger was the #1 ranked player in the world at the time but did not start off like it. He finished the first round 1-over (72) and 4 strokes off the lead. Just couldn’t get anything going. Little bit of rust, but given the circumstances it was expected.
Second round was a different story. Vintage Tiger makes his 2008 U.S. Open debut. Comes out absolutely swinging and posts a 30. A f**kin 30. That was good for the 2nd lowest score ever on 9 holes at a U.S Open. Vijay Singh posted the all-time record of 29 in 2003.
Tiger started the 3rd round 1-shot back of Stuart Appleby. He struggled on the first 9. Personally, I thought that his knee was really going to get the best of him and prevent him from being in contention on Sunday. I don’t think I could have been more wrong!
He comes out of the back and just kicks it up a notch. 2 long eagle putts. Sinks them both. A chip-in birdie on 17 and you go from “he would’ve won this thing if his knee wasn’t fresh of surgery” to “I knew it the whole time” After all we’re talking about Tiger Woods here.
He’s going into the final round. At this point I’m thinking he’s got it locked up. And I’m not just saying that. The science backs it up. Tiger’s close-out record when leading after 54-holes is almost perfect and just down right ridiculous in my opinion.
Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S Open
While Tiger was on a bit of a roller coaster throughout the first couple rounds, Rocco was Mr. Consistent. He put up solid rounds of 69, 71, and 72 through the first 3 days.
Having only won a total of 5 PGA Tour tournaments, Rocco flew a little bit under the radar as you would’ve expected. Especially since his last win had come 6 years prior and he was never in serious contention at a major since turning pro in 1985.
I kind of feel like I’m bashing Rocco a bit but I’m just stating the facts. Much respect to Rocco. The guy is as blue collar as one can be on the PGA Tour. A grinder, if you will. He has over $16 million dollars in career earnings which is both surprising and disappointing.
Disappointing because to me that’s an excellent career, with many years of hard work put in. And none of it is ever recognized especially since he will always be known as the runner-up in the epic 2008 U.S Open. You will see it in the video.
Rocco knows this and he excepts it. He is a class-act and truly lived in the moment when he got his chance to play against the greatest golfer to ever play in an 18-hole playoff at the U.S open.
Final Round and Monday’s 18-hole Playoff
Rocco began the the final round 2 strokes back of Woods who was at 3-under. That 2-shot lead disappeared immediately when Tiger double-bogeyed the first hole. I’ve strictly been focusing on Rocco and Tiger, but they weren’t the only ones in it to win it on Sunday.
Lee Westwood was also in serious contentious through the entire round as well. In fact he was in the exact same boat as Tiger on the 18th green. A putt for birdie to force an 18-hole playoff. His attempt didn’t bode as well at Tiger’s in case you didn’t remember how it all shook out that day.
“The Putt” at the 2008 U.S. Open
Anyway, Rocco had a very solid round playing the last 13 holes without a bogey. Sitting in the clubhouse at 1-under with a 1-shot lead, all he could do was watch as the most dominant golfer ever approached the 18th tee box.
Driving his tee shot into the bunker Tiger was forced to lay-up to make sure he had a clean look at the green to stick it close and make sure he made birdie. From the sand, he put it into the rough. This was less than ideal and only added to the suspense and anxiousness for myself and every golf fan in the world. From the rough, he sticks it to 12 feet. Westwood puts his to 15 ft and misses his putt.
Now you have Rocco staring at the TV just like everyone else watching Woods line up, what has got to be the most clutch putt in PGA Tour history, according to me at least. When Tiger made contact with that ball it seemed like an eternity until it caught the lip and dropped. The rest is history and here we are over 10 years later
Monday’s 18-hole Playoff
I’m not going to go too in-depth about the 18-hole playoff because I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. The video covers the whole thing and again, it is well worth your time to relive it. Rocco shows up wearing Tiger’s traditional red and black Sunday attire in hopes, perhaps, of giving himself any edge he can.
It was a true joy to watch Rocco and Tiger duel it out on that historic Monday at Torrey Pines. Though Tiger’s tying putt on 18, as well as his victory, are the most prominent moments. It’s worth noting the true sportsman Rocco was that day (and always has been).
Living in the moment every step of the way. Knowing what he was doing was special and would live on in golf history forever.
If anything, he proved that day that it didn’t matter win or lose, but rather if you get the opportunity to go to war with Goliath, you ought to throw everything you got at him and give the people a show.