Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Father's Day Finish

Benign conditions prevailed at Torrey Pines on Sunday. Low scores were there to be had. Retief Goosen, two-time U.S. Open champion, shot 67. Heath Slocum shot a bogey-free 65, the low round of the tournament. The final groups, though, felt the heat most intensely. The best score out of any of the last four pairings was Rocco Mediate's what-me-worry round of par 71.

Tiger and Lee Westwood weren't at their best. Woods, again, double-bogeyed the first hole to give away his miraculously earned lead. Westwood missed makeable birdie putts inside ten feet. At the 18th tee, both Woods and Westwood stood at even par for the tournament. Rocco was in the scorer's trailer at 1 under. A birdie by either player would set up a Monday playoff.

Woods drove it in the left fairway bunker. Westwood drove it in the right fairway bunker.

Westwood blasted out to a safe position on the short grass. Woods missed right and threw his club down in disgust. Both golfers had to get up and down from 100 yards to force a playoff. Westwood played 15 feet above the hole. Woods played a brilliant shot that landed hole high, 12 feet from the cup.

Lee Westwood didn't hit his putt hard enough. It curled left to right too early and stopped just short and right of the cup. He tapped in for par.

Tiger stalked his putt, looking deliberately from every angle. The stroke was true. The green in that area was bumpy. His ball shook, rattled, rolled, rimmed the cup - and curled in. "He rimmed it in," I said. Woods let out a primal roar. The crowd erupted. Westwood walked forlornly off the green.

The best was yet to come.

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