Tiger Woods, playing with an injured knee and leg, secured his record-tying ninth USGA championship by winning a third U.S. Open title in a 19-hole playoff against Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif.
Woods, who previously won in 2000 and 2002, and Mediate each shot even-par 71 during the scheduled 18-hole playoff on Monday after they were tied through 72 holes at 1-under-par 283.
On the first sudden death hole, the 461-yard, par-4 seventh, Woods made a regulation par and Mediate was not able to convert a par putt after driving in the left fairway bunker and hitting out short and left of the green near the grandstand.
“I think this is probably the best,” said Woods of his victory compared to others. “All things considered, don’t know how I ended up in this position, to be honest with you.
“It was a long week, a lot of doubt, a lot of questions going into the week. And, here we are 91 holes later.”
Despite a nearly two-month respite because of knee surgery in April, Woods carved his way near the lead with a 3-under-par 68 in the second round and trailed leader Stuart Appleby by one stroke. But his surge came the next day.
Woods grabbed the 54-hole lead at 3-under-par 210 using some miraculous play on Saturday, often labeled ‘moving day’. Through occasional grimaces of pain, Woods shot a 1-under-par 70, which included a 65-foot putt for eagle on the par-5 13th hole, a chip-in for birdie on the par-4 17th and a snake-like 25-foot downhiller for eagle on the 18th.
“At 13, I just went nuts,” Woods said. “Eighteen was just sweet.”
Holder of a perfect 13-0 mark when in the lead or sharing it at the 54-hole mark at major championships, Woods began his quest with a double-bogey 6 on Torrey Pines’ first hole.
Mediate, who survived a playoff in sectional qualifying to earn a spot in the field, was playing in the group ahead of Woods. His par-4 on the first hole combined with the Woods 6 tied the competition. When Woods followed with a bogey on the second hole after Mediate made a birdie 3, the momentum and the lead belonged to Mediate.
The well-liked 45-year-old Mediate was vying to supplant Hale Irwin as the oldest U.S. Open champion on the longest course in Open history (7,643 yards). However, his back-to-back bogeys on the fifth and sixth hole and a Woods birdie on the ninth returned a one-stroke lead to the 14-time major champion.
To bolster the drama, Mediate birdied the 10th to tie again. Then he and Woods took turns for onestroke leads on the 13th and 11th, respectively.
Mediate’s birdie putt to take the lead on the 14th brought thoughts of an upset to the large galleries. That set the stage, however, for a quintessential finish.
Trailing by one stroke on the 72nd tee, Woods found a fairway bunker and played to reach the green on the par-5 in three. His approach landed 12 feet from the hole. Mediate had reached the surface in three as well and lagged his first putt to four feet.
Needing to hole the putt, Woods guided his ball into the heart of the hole for a closing birdie. Mediate’s par putt forced the Monday playoff.
Starts - 12
Best Finish - Winner 2000, 2002, 2008
Rds - 51
Cuts Made - 12
Top 3 - 6
Top 5 - 6
Top 10 - 6
Top 25 - 11
Scores in 60s - 15
Rds Under Par - 16
Earnings - $4,988,257.10