Even bogeys on two of the last three holes could not prevent Tiger Woods from capturing his second U.S. Open title in three years. With a closing round of 2-over-par 72, Woods captured the championship that came to be called "The People's Open" by three strokes over Phil Mickelson and by five over Jeff Maggert at the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y.
With a 72-hole total of 277, Woods was the only player in the field to finish under par.
"As a kid you just dreamt of winning one," remarked Woods, who became the 20th player to capture multiple U.S. Open titles. "It's so hard to describe how good it feels to win a major championship, because it takes so much out of you. And you've got to be at the top of your game."
Woods entered the final round with a four-stroke lead over Spain's Sergio Garcia, but bogeys on the first two holes saw his margin shrink quickly to two. Paired with Woods, Garcia would never truely threaten the lead during the final round, struggling to a 4-over-par 74 that put him six strokes off the winning total.
Phil Mickelson, playing in the group ahead, celebrated his 32nd birthday with an opening birdie that rallied the galleries to his cause. With birdies at the 8th and 11th offset by bogeys at the 5th and 6th, Mickelson stood at one under par and within three strokes of Woods when play was suspended at 6:03 p.m. due to severe weather.
Following a 49-minute delay, Mickelson birdied the par-5 13th and pulled to within two shots of Woods. "It was one of the most exciting days that I've had in the game of golf," said Mickelson after his round. "I could actually feel the electricity in the air."
Woods, however, responded with some magic of his own just 10 minutes later. Two well-played shots left him with an eagle putt at the 13th, and even though he settled for birdie he once again stood at five under par with a three-stroke margin.
When Mickelson bogeyed the 16th after his drive found the rough, Woods' second U.S. Open title was all but secured. A bogey of his own at the 16th and three-putt bogey on the 18th were not enough to derail Woods' victory.
Woods, who held the lead after each round of the Championship, became the sixth start-to-finish champion in U.S. Open history, having also accomplished this feat during his record-setting performance at Pebble Beach in 2000. With eight USGA titles to his credit, Woods moved into a tie for second place with Jo Anne Gunderson Carner for the most USGA championship victories, trailing the legendary Bob Jones by one. He also became the first player since Jack Nicklaus in 1972 to capture the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same season.
Bethpage State Park became the first facility owned by the public to host the U.S. Open Championship, and the spectators turned out in large numbers all week. Galleries swelled to well over 45,000 during many days of the Championship, displaying an enthusiasm that impressed even the most experienced players.
"I've never played in front of galleries such as this," Woods noted. "I don't think any of us have. This is completely new to all of us, for them to be this excited, from the first tee to the 18th green."
Seventy-two players made the cut at the Black Course, which came at 10-over-par 156, the highest since the 1986 championship at Shinnecock Hills. Five amateurs qualified for the Championship, including 16-year-old Derek Tolan. However, only Kevin Warrick made the cut. Andy Miller, Johnny Miller's son, also qualified. And Hale Irwin and Nick Faldo received special exemptions in to the field. Defending champion Retief Goosen missed the cut.
Starts - 11
Best Finish - Winner 2000, 2002
Rds - 41
Cuts Made - 10
Top 3 - 4
Top 5 - 4
Top 10 - 4
Top 25 - 9
Scores in 60s - 13
Rds Under Par - 13
Earnings - $3,024,921.10