Archive for 2008 U.S. Open

Tiger or G.O.A.T.?

Posted in Golf with tags , , , on June 17, 2008 by nathanelwell

 

As Tiger Woods tapped in his last put to win the U.S. Open yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel goosebumps.  In my opinion, it was one of the most memorable sporting events that I have ever followed.  “A golf event being memorable?” you ask…  You could call me crazy, but to see one of the world’s most dominant athletes battle through a severe injury (a leg injury, I might add!) to triumph reminded me of an athlete by the name of Kirk Gibson

Tiger woods triumphed on Monday, after a grueling 19 hole playoff against aged veteran Rocco Mediate.  Not only did Tiger win his 14th Major golf tournament, but he did it in miraculous fashion.

3rd Round

It all started during the 3rd round on Saturday, on the 13th hole, as Tiger sunk a 60 foot eagle.  He followed on the 17th hole by hitting his approach shot into the thick rough next to the green.  But in typical Tiger fashion, he hit the ball out of the rough and straight into a hole for a birdie, to Tiger’s disbelief.  Tiger capitalized on the 18th hole by sinking a 20+ foot putt for another eagle, to put him in the lead by 1 shot going into the 4th and Final round.  Going into the 4th round of a Major tournament in the lead, Tiger is undefeated

4th Round

Tiger started the 4th and final round with a one stroke lead, which didn’t seem much for someone that was doubled over in pain for half of the round.  Tiger, who was visibly in pain throughout the Sunday round, somehow managed to stay close to Rocco Mediate going into the 18th and final hole only down by one stroke.  Then, he sinks a putt to tie Rocco Mediate, to force an 18 hole playoff on Monday.  This finishing put seemed to roll around the entire hole for eternity before dropping into the hole.

 18 hole playoff

Tiger Woods matched up with Rocco Mediate for an epic mano a mano battle to the finish.  Tiger went into the 18th hole, again, down by one stroke, and was somehow able to scratch back against Mediate, to tie him for yet another sudden death playoff hole.  And the rest is history.  Tiger sinks a par putt and he wins his 3rd U.S. Open, and now is only a Grand Slam away from tying Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 career Major tournaments.

As I contemplate Tiger’s performance this past weekend, I ask “is Tiger the Greatest Of All Time”? (G.O.A.T.).  You may ask, “in comparison to who?”.  As I look at the entire spectrum of sports, I believe that Tiger Woods is the greatest athlete ever to walk the face of the earth.  I remember watching Tiger win his first Masters tournament when I was a sophomore in high school.  He won by 12 strokes to become the first minority to win a Masters tournament.  And lets not forget Tiger’s chip during the 2006 Masters…  Sure, there are several athletes out there worthy of the G.O.A.T. designation: Babe Ruth, Muhammed Ali, Jackie Robinson, or Michael Jordan.  But in my opinion, based on sheer adversity faced during a sporting event, I feel that Tiger has proven, again and again, that he is the G.O.A.T.  Like Michael Jordan lighting it up when he has the flu, Tiger proved to us yesterday that he was able to gruel through a major injury to win a Major tournament.  And like Kirk Gibson in the 1988 World Series, there was plenty of fist pumping at Torrey Pines…

 

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One of the most storied tournaments in the world…

Posted in Golf with tags , , , , , , on June 12, 2008 by nathanelwell

Imagine yourself standing on a small grass box overlooking a narrow grass field and in the background lies the Pacific Ocean.  In your hand is a long titanium stick and at your feet is a small white ball.  What is your goal?  To hit the ball with the stick (straight I might add) and to hit it over 400 yards to a 4.25 inch diameter hole in the least number of hits possible.  You are wearing trousers and a polo shirt, maybe a hat, and maybe a metal bracelet that supposedly brings you balance (does it really?).  And to make matters worse, it could be 90 degrees outside.  After enduring 4 days of this torture, you turn in (and sign) a small card with a bunch of numbers on it.  In what man’s mind would an activity like this ever be sane or creative?  Now lets also imagine that in this same crazy activity, a $7 million purse is waiting for the participants, the winner taking over $1.25 million.  Now thats what I’m talkin’ about!

As the U.S. Open begins today at the treasured Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, CA, we will see a field of 156 golfers, all of whom (to a degree) hit the stick and ball very very well.  The U.S. Open has been notorious for fast greens, thich rough, and blown chances.  Both Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie needed a par to win or a bogie to tie on the last hole in 2006.  They both failed, and Geoff Ogilvy won the Open as the first Australian to win since 1995 (Aussie, Aussie, Aussie…OY OY OY!!)

As the U.S. Open has been around for 113 years there has been a diverse history of victors.  Bobby Jones won the U.S. Open 4 times, all 4 times as an amateur.  Then came Ben Hogan, who won the Open 4 times.  The Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus has also won the tournament 4 times.  And along came the Tiger, who has won the US Open twice, both on public courses.  Tiger has traditionally fared quite well on Torrey Pines – he has won 6 tournaments there as a professional, and he won the Junior World Championships when he was a wee laddy.  And there there is Lefty…  Phil Mickelson grew up in San Diego, and has dreamed for the U.S. Open to be at Torrey Pines.  Mickelson’s first challenge will be one of the partners he is matched with on Thursday and Friday – Tiger Woods.  Tiger has always done better under pressure against Mickelson.  The advantage for Mickelson could be that Tiger is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery after the Masters this spring.  But the disadvantage for Mickelson could be down the stretch. 

As the press pays constant attention to Tiger and Lefty (as I have right now), I’d like to rank my top 5 potential winners at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines:

1) Sergio Garcia

 Sergio has never won a Major tournament.  I saw him compete with Tiger at Medinah Country Club in Illinois, and he gave Tiger a major run for his money.  Fresh off his win at the Players Championship, expect Sergio to play hard.

 

2) Stewart Cink

 Stewart Cink has had 8 top ten finishes in Major tournaments over the last 10 years – 3 of them have been in the US Open.  

 

 

3) Colin Montgomerie

 Colin has had 5 top ten finishes in the US Open, but has always been bothered by the US fans.  Last year he was cut from 3 of the 4 Major championships.  He has always had the talent, but couldn’t seem to overcome the pressure around him.  Will Montgomerie prove himself this year at Torrey Pines?  He has never won a Major championship.

 

4) Vijay Singh

  Vijay has won 3 Major championships, and has placed in the top 10 at the U.S. Open 7 different times.  You won’t see him on the front pages of newspapers, but this guy can play.

 

5) Pat Perez

 Pat has claimed to have played Torrey Pines Golf Course over 1,000 times.  Need I say more?