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BREAKING UPDATE 6-16-08 Rocco Mediate Hunts Tiger in the Grass Now For 2008 U.S. Open Title
Monday, Jun 16, 2008 9:41am

SAN DIEGO, CA  From ESPN & CNNSi (By: Tom Pace, Talk of the Town) BREAKING: UPDATE U.S. OPEN PLAYOFF 1:25pm 6-16-08  Tiger Woods is playing hurt...all the while, being pursued by a relative unknown hunter, Rocco Mediate, and as they enter the final 9 holes in the U.S. Open playoff today, "...is the hunter now, the hunted, as Tiger leads Rocco by two, according to CNNSi.com.  

With the U.S. Open Title squarely in his sights, Rocco Mediate was about to hoist the trophy, when out of the woods, came Tiger, sinking a clutch 12-foot putt to send the championship game into an 18-hole playoff this Monday at Torrey Pines. 

Pat Forde from ESPN.com puts the game in perspective in this article:

One man. One putt. One chance to play on. The last man standing was the first name in golf, Tiger Woods. The last stroke played was his 73rd of the day, and it started 12 feet from the cup on the 18th hole.

The stakes were very big and very simple: make it, and Woods would force a Monday playoff with remarkable Rocco Mediate; miss it, and Woods would have to live with his first come-from-ahead Sunday loss in a major.

Amid complete silence and palpable tension, he swung the Scotty Cameron putter back to the instep of his right shoe, then forward to the outside of his left. The Swooshed ball was on its way across the crusty Torrey Pines grass.

Any doubt where it would end up?

"I've been caddying for this guy for 10 years," said Steve Williams, with a "what do you think?" smile.

Yet the inevitability of the Woods birdie clashed with the celebration its author unleashed afterward. He furiously pumped both fists. He bellowed so ferociously that you could have fit a Callaway Big Bertha head in his mouth. He was as stoked as the thousands who stood screaming all around him, once again awed by Woods' will when the chips are down.

That celebration told the true story of Sunday, and of this U.S. Open: Tiger has never had to work this hard to win a major. Never had more to overcome. Never dealt with a bigger physical challenge than the one presented by his chronically painful left knee.

Whatever is going on with that joint, it seems worse than two-month-old soreness after arthroscopic surgery. But the knee's owner isn't exactly turning over his medical records to the media. Only Woods and a select few of his closest confidantes know what level of pain he's playing through.

"A lot," said his swing coach, Hank Haney. "He's the toughest guy I've ever seen.

"I can't believe he made it around 72 holes, but he did. And he'll make it 90. Or 91, or 92, or whatever it takes."

That seems to be the case here. No disrespect to the entertaining Mediate, but this Open has boiled down to Woods' titanium mind vs. Woods' troublesome knee. The battle continues, with neither side surrendering.

The knee pushed the mind to the brink Sunday, but couldn't close the deal.

"Oh, I was going to finish," Woods said. But it was going to take dozens of winces and limps to go the distance.

The knee dragged Woods down to a 73, his worst round as a Sunday leader in 14 majors. It helped turn the usual fourth-round coronation into a de facto comeback -- Woods only led outright for three of the 18 holes, throwing away his advantage immediately.

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