During all the years I lived in San Diego and worked in La Jolla, I never attended a golf tournament at the beautiful Torrey Pines golf course, or played there. I used to pass it all the time, and it's an amazing spot at the edge of cliffs that plummet down toward the Pacific.
This week the U.S. Open was held there. If I were ever to see a tournament there, today would have been the day I'd have wanted to do it.
Yesterday Rocco Mediate, 45 years old, pulled ahead of Tiger Woods until the 18th green. This had history written all over it--at 45, Rocco would have been the oldest player to ever win the 108-year-old tournament, and the oldest player to ever win his first major. Tiger has never lost a tournament when he has started play on Sunday in the lead or with a share of the lead, and he was trying to win his 14th major.
On the 18th hole, Tiger's birdie pushed the tournament into overtime--the 18 holes played today, between two great golfers.
Tiger is a phenomenal athlete, not only one of the best golfers to ever pick up a club, if not hands down the best, but one of the best competitors to ever play a sport of any kind. His focus and drive and courage and mental toughness are virtually unmatched. He played the whole tournament with a knee that has just gone through its third surgery, a fact painfully obvious by the grimaces and winces and occasional limps, sometimes even using clubs as canes. But he held in there.
Rocco has been on the circuit for 20 years and has never won a major. He was going up against the best. Most players would have melted under the pressure, but Rocco not only hung in, he did so with grace and humor and charm.
He was ahead by one, going into the 18th hole. But once again, a birdie by Tiger tied things up.
Tiger finally won on the first hole of sudden death play.
I have never seen such incredible golf, such formidable competitors, such gracious comrades battling for a historic moment. When it was all over, Tiger called it "the greatest tournament I've ever played."
Few people would suspect that a golf game would be the most suspenseful television of the month, but this one was. I doubt that we'll see its like again any time soon.