Tiger Woods Greatest Ever Win

From ESPN.

Tiger's swing coach believes '08 Open win was Tiger's greatest ever.

A Torrey Story: Woods' win was greatest U.S. Open ever.

Tiger puts away Mediate on 91st hole to win U.S. Open.

Out of competition for two months because of knee surgery, Woods won the toughest test in golf.

For the second straight day, Woods came to the 18th hole one shot behind and stood over a birdie putt to avoid a shocking collapse. An epic U.S. Open finally ended Monday afternoon on the 19th hole of a playoff when Woods outlasted a gritty Rocco Mediate for a victory that surprised even him.

"This was the greatest performance he's ever had," said Haney, who has been there for several of them, including six major championships. "I didn't know he could play 18 holes, let alone 91."

"What he had to overcome … the pain he is in," Haney said, shaking his head. "The guy is just so tough. He's just unbelievable. The lack of preparation … It's just got to be his greatest win. I know he feels the same way."

According to Haney, Woods was barely able to practice. "He would hit no more than 40 or 50 balls at a time," he said.

Two weeks ago, on June 2, Woods said he had yet to play an 18-hole round. Two days later, he played 18 holes in a cart at Torrey Pines, with Haney along for the ride. Three days later, at a course north of San Diego called Big Canyon, Haney coaxed Woods into walking those nine holes for the first time, just to be sure he could do it.

Woods then played nine-hole practice rounds leading up to the tournament, not surprising given his knowledge of the Torrey Pines course, where he has won six Buick Invitationals, including four in a row.

In truth, that was really all Woods could handle, and Haney was concerned.

"He bent over to read a putt for the first time on Thursday," Haney said.

The Thursday that Haney was referring to was the first round of the U.S. Open.

It became obvious that, despite what Woods said before the tournament, he would not have played the U.S. Open were it not a major championship. His doctor had advised him against playing at all. Pain was evident from the first round on, and Haney said that Woods knew all along it would be that way.

"I'm not really good at listening to doctors' orders too well," Woods said. "So I end up -- hey, I won this week, so it is what it is."

Asked whether doctors told him he could further injure his knee, Woods only nodded in the affirmative. Asked whether he made things worse, Woods said, "Maybe." Still, once the tournament began, he said, there was no withdrawing.

"I wasn't going to bag it," Woods said. "I think everyone knows me well enough that … it's not in my nature. I don't know how to do that. It helped to have the energy from all the fans because there were times when it stung quite a bit. I had a couple of zingers out there, and you're trying to feed off it somehow. You always try to use everything to your advantage.

"It's been sore every day. It's been sore for a while. I just deal with it."

"When this story is told," Haney said, "it will go down as his greatest victory."

"I think this is probably the best ever," Woods said. "All things considered, I don't know how I ended up in this position, to be honest with you."

"It was an honor being out there," Mediate said. "And I'm sure that I scared him. I did good today.

"I just about got him." "Obviously, I would have loved to win," he said. "I don't know what else to say. They wanted a show, they got one."

Woods set to have season-ending knee surgery.

Williams also done for the year after Tiger's gutsy win.

"The stress fractures that were discovered just prior to the tournament unfortunately prevented me from participating and had a huge impact on the timing for my return," Woods said. "I was determined, though, to do everything and anything in my power to play in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, which is a course that is close to where I grew up and holds many special memories for me."

Despite a torn anterior cruciate ligament and the double stress fracture, Woods managed to win a major that required five days of flinching, grimacing and a long list of spectacular shots that have defined his career.

Woods is private about his health and personal life, never more so than at the just-completed U.S. Open. He didn't say anything about the torn ACL or the stress fractures, and wouldn't say how he was treating the knee, only that it was more sore as the week went on.

"While I am obviously disappointed to have to miss the remainder of the season, I have to do the right thing for my long-term health and look forward to returning to competitive golf when my doctors agree that my knee is sufficiently healthy," Woods said, "My doctors assure me with the proper rehabilitation and training, the knee will be strong and there will be no long-term effects."

Williams said Woods' knee was most aggravated by tee shots, so after each drive on the back nine, he would encourage his boss by reminding him to keep pressing on because he was almost finished.

"I would tell him, 'Hey, you only have five more tee shots or four more tee shots. Suck it up one or two more times and you'll be finished. You can do this.'"

Afterward, as Williams and his wife raced to catch a flight, Woods called his caddie's cell phone to voice his appreciation. "He told me a few words that I will never, ever forget," Williams said. "It's something that I'm going to forever keep between me and Tiger, but it meant the world. What he said will always stick in my mind."


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