102nd U.S. Open | June 13-16, 2002
Bethpage State Park Black Course, Farmington, N.Y.
|Tiger Woods, United States||67||-||68||-||70||-||72||—||277|
|Phil Mickelson, United States||70||-||73||-||67||-||70||—||280|
|Jeff Maggert, United States||69||-||73||-||68||-||72||—||282|
|Sergio Garcia, Spain||68||-||74||-||67||-||74||—||283|
|Scott Hoch, United States||71||-||75||-||70||-||69||—||285|
|Billy Mayfair, United States||69||-||74||-||68||-||74||—||285|
One of the national magazine headlines from another Tiger Woods’ trouncing at a major read, “Halfway Home.”
Woods’ second U.S. Open triumph — another wire-to-wire affair — became his eighth career major title, which squarely put him in hot pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.
It also meant he held the first two legs of the “Grand Slam” as he became the first golfer in 30 years to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year (it came to an end when Ernie Els won the British Open at Muirfield later that summer). The last man to do it was Nicklaus in 1972.
But this championship had a different vibe from his previous major victories. Rivals such as Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson were feeling foolhardy to find any silver lining in trying to close the gap on the planet’s superstar.
Woods was 26. He was in the prime of his career. On easy courses, he was eating the field alive. On difficult courses such as Bethpage Black — the longest and narrowest national open in history — the results were even worse. That week, he was the only golfer to finish under-par — comfortably.
The final round never held any suspense. Woods held a four-shot advantage over Garcia entering the day. And Garcia, the fiery Spaniard who had his head-to-head verbal spars with Woods, flamed out early with untimely front-nine bogeys.
That left Mickelson, who made a mini-charge at Woods in the final round, slicing the deficit to two shots after making birdie at the 17th hole. Wherever Mickelson went, it was obvious he was the “people’s champion” — and that meant a lot that week since this was the first time the national open was staged on a municipal layout.
But Woods’ two-putt birdie at the 13th hole gave him enough space to grind out an unspectacular victory — in front of 42,500 gallery members, most ever seen at the championship.
It was Woods’ seventh major victory in the past 11 tournaments held.
“It’s so hard to describe how good it feels to win a major championship, because it takes so much out of you,” Woods told reporters afterward. “It’s so difficult to do because you have to really play well.”