Monday, June 16, 2008
He did it again! Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open on an 19-hole playoff today. Even with his knee still recovering from surgery, Tiger was incredible as he earned his fourteenth major championship trophy on his way to Jack Nicklaus's record of 18.
I can still remember the first time I saw Tiger Woods play golf. I was 12 years old when he won his third U.S. Amateur Championship after rolling in a long putt to beat Steve Scott on the 38th hole of their incredible match. Soon after that day, he turned professional and changed the PGA Tour forever. I remember mimicking his fist pumps and even wearing his shirts and hats on the golf course as I sought to emulate my new favorite athlete. At one point, my dream was to become a professional golfer who would challenge all of Tiger's records, but my guess is my golf hopes have dwindled to living vicariously through Tiger's triumphs as I sit on my couch.
This U.S. Open showed a new side of Tiger. While he has certainly not started to inch down the back side of a declining career yet, I saw Tiger struggle more than he ever has before. He double-bogeyed four holes while grimacing after most of his swings during the week. I never imagined Rocco Mediate might have a chance of beating Tiger Woods in an 18-hole playoff, but he certainly looked to have Tiger's number after rolling in three birdies on the back nine today.
Until...Tiger stepped on the 18th tee. The feeling I felt both times Tiger stepped on the 18th tee yesterday and today was indescribable. It's why we watch golf (for those of you honest enough to admit that you love watching golf...hopefully there are a few). Somehow, I knew he was going to make the impossible happen and he did!!
It's fun to follow your favorite players in person and on TV. However, Tiger isn't just one of the best current players. He is one of the best of all-time, and he likely will be the best of all-time. Each time he steps on the course, he rewrites history. It will be so much fun to tell my kids about the rounds I watched him play.
But like my dad, years from now my kids will not be impressed. They will say, "Tiger-who?" just like I say to my dad, "Jack-who?" I guess that's when I'll know my dream for the tour is over. I can't wait!
And a note to my wife who endures my zeal for golf: Thanks for watching (and sleeping on the couch while I watch) golf with me and caring enough to listen to me talk about Tiger. While a 25-hour golf weekend might seem excessive, I assure you that history is being made. And I won't be on the couch again watching Tiger again until...well...a few weeks from now when the British Open begins. I love you!!