The U.S. Open started with some wondering if Woods' surgically repaired left knee would hold up for 72 holes. Now the question is whether it can stand 90 holes. Despite a sloppy stretch in the middle of the back nine when he bogeyed Nos. 13 and 15, Woods forced a playoff with a final-hole birdie that was anything but a work of art. Call it the result of will. Forget that he closed a with a 73, he's in an 18-hole playoff against Rocco Mediate for the U.S. Open, and 154 other guys are not.
At 45, he could break Hale Irwin's record as the oldest U.S. Open winner by almost six months. It's a safe guess not a lot of money was wagered on Mediate in Sunday's final round, and even less will be bet on him to win the Monday playoff against Woods. But every time Mediate looked like he would fade over the weekend, he fought back. Woods will see more of the same Monday.
Slocum started the final round T-58 and shot a 65--the lowest round of the week--to climb to T-9. Remarkably, he made no bogeys over the final 18 holes at Torrey Pines and closed with birdies on three of the final five holes to nicely pad his paycheck for the week.
Davis, the USGA's Senior Director of Rules and Competitions has been in charge of setting up U.S. Open courses for the USGA since Winged Foot in 2006. Once again, he got it right. The graduated rough Davis seems to prefer in the Open makes the most exciting shot in golf--the recovery shot--a possibility, and that along with challenging but fair hole locations and green speeds made for a great competition. Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate were tied at one-under-par 283 after 72 holes. Seems like a good number.
The tournament was there for the taking by Westwood. He had a one-stroke lead going to the back nine, then bogeyed Nos. 10, 12 and 13. Still, he came to the 18th tied with Woods and with the same chance to get into the playoff with Mediate. But Westwood missed the fairway right, pitched out of the bunker, knocked his approach to 18 feet and left the birdie put a foot short and low.
Els, a two-time U.S. Open champion, had fought his way back into the fray and was at two over par when he stepped to the 15th tee. Seven strokes later he was out of the hunt following a triple bogey.
The 2006 U.S. Open champion was one over par and very much in the mix going to the par-5 ninth hole--a birdie opportunity. But a bogey there and on No. 10, and two more on Nos. 16 and 17 tumbled him to a T-9 finish.