The USGA takes a lot of criticism for holding an 18-hole Monday playoff to break ties. All the majors once used it, but since shifted to more TV-friendly formats: four-hole aggregate playoffs in the Open Championship and PGA, sudden death at the Masters. The last three playoffs had been won by good golfers (Payne Stewart, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen) playing OK golf and their pursuers playing poor golf. None had been particularly dramatic.
"Anticlimactic," some said. "Anachronistic," said others.
For 11 holes, that seemed the case. After lunch with Uncle Larry in Dearborn, I tuned in and found Woods and Mediate on the 12th tee. Rocco was struggling at 3 over par. Tiger had just bogeyed the 11th hole and shaved his lead from three strokes to two. The 12th hole was the longest par-4, at 504 yards, in U.S. Open history.
Tiger sprayed his tee shot askew. Rocco, after an accurate but short drive, had 240 yards to the hole. He took out a fairway metal. He made his characteristic half-waggle and foot shuffle, pulled the club back, and struck the ball onto the green, hole high.
"Oh, boy!" I shouted at the TV screen. "Now we've got ourselves a playoff!"
The rest is history.