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US Open countdown: Hobbling Tiger Woods beats Rocco Mediate in playoff for 3rd Open title

108th U.S. Open| June 12-16, 2008

Torrey Pines South Course, La Jolla, California

Leaderboard

x-Tiger Woods, United States 72 - 68 - 70 - 73 283
Rocco Mediate, United States 69 - 71 - 72 - 71 283
Lee Westwood, England 70 - 71 - 70 - 73 284
Robert Karlsson, Sweden 70 - 70 - 75 - 71 286
D.J. Trahan, United States 72 - 69 - 73 - 72 286
x-won playoff

Of all the dramatic, fist-pumping, finger-pointing Tiger Woods moments at big championships, this was certainly the greatest.

Playing the entire 91 holes almost on one leg, Woods captured his third U.S. Open title — and 14th professional major — by defeating journeyman Rocco Mediate in a sudden-death playoff.

The tournament, full of powerful twists and turns, ended on the 19th hole of the playoff, where Mediate hit a drive into the bunker, pulled his approach shot into grandstands and ending up missing an 18-foot putt for par.

After that, Woods — who could barely walk to the champion’s press conference — finally admitted to the world he was playing with a pretty serious left knee injury. Turns out, he had a serious leg fracture.

“I think this is probably the best ever,” Woods told reporters afterward. “All things considered, I don’t know how I ended up in this (winner’s) position, to be honest with you.”

Going to Torrey Pines South Course continued the USGA’s push to play its national open on public courses — which will happen again next week at Chambers Bay in University Place.

Woods led heading into the final round, lost it with a first-hole double bogey, regained it with a birdie at the 11th hole, then lost it again after Mediate made just one bogey over his final 13 holes and took the clubhouse lead with a 71.

Needing a birdie on the finishing hole, a par 5, Woods hit his drive into a bunker and laid up in the right rough about 100 yards from the hole.

He hit his third shot on the green but faced a left-breaking, slightly downhill 15-footer on bumpy greens for birdie.

Not many golfers could have made the putt.

Woods did, excitedly pumping both fists in celebration after forcing the first U.S. Open playoff since 2001.

He birdied the finishing hole again the next day to tie Mediate and send it to the 19th hole — where Woods finally closed it out.

With his win, Woods joined Jack Nicklaus as the only golfer to win all four Grand Slam titles three times each.

todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

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