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Tiger Woods at the US Open: Undeniable Greatness

Tiger Woods is an amazing golfer. That is an extreme understatement, I know, but it was so clear from yesterday’s fourth round of the US Open in which Tiger drove home a 12 foot putt on the 18th green at Torrey Pines Golf Club in La Jolla, California to enter into a playoff Monday with Rocco Mediate. Who? Meaning no disrespect, none at all, because when you finish the course ahead of Tiger Woods, you certainly must be somebody.

I don’t watch golf, not at all, ever, until last night. Watching golf would usually be right up there with sitting through a bowling tournament: pure torture. What I know about the sport I’ve gained through non-intentional exposure to the sports segment of the evening news if I haven’t tuned to Seinfeld reruns or something more entertaining. The usual Sunday evening offerings on TV last night were sub-par (sorry, couldn’t help it), and somehow, when we came upon the US Open, seeing it was Tiger in a three-way tie for the lead at the time, my husband and I settled for that simply because even as non-golf fans, we are Tiger fans.

Well, the tie did not last long, in fact the leader position kept changing with the birdies and the bogeys made by Woods, Mediate and Westwood. Hey, pretty interesting! Believe me, I am not a trained observer of the game, but even I could see Tiger had some trouble on the last few holes, trouble in the form of keeping the ball on the fairway. He seemed disgusted with himself. I had heard that Woods’ fairway play was often lacking and it was his putting that often saved him. The end of this round was to become a good case in point.

Westwood dropped back and Mediate surged forward. Mediate finished in the lead, and Woods, still on the course, struggled to get things under control. As Mediate paced, waiting for the conclusion of the showdown, he seemed very much resigned to the fact that even with his lead, a win at the US Open was beyond his grasp with Tiger still out on the course. Mediate in fact, seemed very much astonished at his first place position and seemed to be expecting the dream to end at any moment. He didn’t have long to wait. Tiger’s efforts on the course finally took shape and produced the incredible birdie putt on the 18th green, securing his place in the playoff with Mediate on Monday.

Sunday was Father’s Day. I have seen the stories about Tiger and how his father was everything to him and how his father’s passing was devastating. I thought how hard it must be for Tiger to play in a major tournament knowing that his Dad, his number one mentor, adviser and teacher was not there to support and encourage him, and all on Father’s Day. Tiger must keep all his Dad taught him near to his heart, that’s true, but it is not the same as having his dad at his side, it can’t be. That is a difficult reality to deal with and yet the kind of mental toughness necessary to achieve the sinking of a must-do 12 foot putt on the 18th green under such enormous pressure must somehow be learned and practiced and mastered, like the game itself. Thus came my observation, as unoriginal as it may be, that Tiger Woods is an amazing golfer.

Mark Twain described golf as a good walk, ruined; I think Woods and Mediate would argue with that assessment. I think they would both say more like a good walk made better: a pathway leading to fame and fortune paved with the legacy of a father to a son and given the unexpected twists and turns of a relative unknown finishing at the top of the heap. A good walk ruined? Nah, I’d say at least a good walk worth watching.

Tiger Woods is a living legend in the field of sports and the first name that comes to mind when we talk about golf but that is only so because he does his work with sincerity and the golf course is more like a 안전놀이터 to him which he treats with elan.

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