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Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Commentary: No faking scope of Tiger’s triumph

June 18, 2008

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— Skeptics will note that Tiger Woods lifted the U.S. Open trophy and did not double over in pain.

Gee whiz, how hurt could he really be?

The real conspiracy buffs will say he didn't really have arthroscopic knee surgery and the whole Torrey Pines death march was just part of Nike's plan to market a new artificial leg.

The less loony admitted that Woods left knee was probably aching, but he threw in a little Sir Laurence Olivier limp to gin up the drama.

I don't know if Woods was really tortured, half-faking or simply auditioning for the part of Chester in the remake of "Gunsmoke." I do know that if the U.S. Open was an act, it will go down as the finest in Sir Tiger Woods' career.

"This is the best," he said.

This is the one they'll be talking about 100 years from now, long after Tiger has won 25 majors and found a cure for male-pattern baldness. He had to drag his knee 17.6 miles over five days, 91 holes and one determined Rocco.

"I scared him," said Mr. Mediate.

Rocco was just like Rocky if Stallone could talk. He was leading by a shot going into the last hole Monday. Just like Sunday's final hole, Woods needed a birdie to stay alive.

"Again, he did it," Rocco said.

Mediate then bogeyed the first sudden-death hole. He remains 18 majors behind Nicklaus, but he won a lot of hearts. As for Tiger, he just keeps winning.

We take for granted we are witnessing a sporting comet that comes along every century or so. Monday's win was major No. 14, but can you really tell the '06 Wanamaker trophy from the '01 green jacket from the '05 Claret Jug?

They've taken on an assembly line quality, which is sort of like saying every Rolls-Royce looks the same. When you've won the U.S. Open by 15 shots and the Masters by a dozen, it takes something astonishing to stand out.

"Four doubles, three eagles, a few three-putts, a couple of snipes off the tee, a couple of slices, some bombs, anything and everything happened," Woods said.

That's his way of summarizing that he made some really bad shots. Except when the pressure was really on. Then he hit some really good shots.

"That's why he's Tiger Woods," Hank Haney said.

Tiger's swing doctor was grilled after the round about how badly his prized patient was hurting. Only the real doctor knows for sure, and he wasn't around. After Torrey's Limp-o-Rama, people are wondering if there's something chronically wrong down there.

Tiger was his usual cryptic self after the round. You got the feeling he won't be spotted again until the British Open in four weeks, and maybe not even then.

The thought of Woods becoming a real-life Chester is more than a little sobering, though it might help us appreciate what he's been doing the past 10 years. And especially the past five days.

You can accuse him of wincing for the cameras, but there's no debating his lack of preparation. Woods could hit only 50 balls a day on the practice range. Vijay Singh hits that many while brushing his teeth every morning.

Tiger couldn't even bend down to read a putt until last week, much less walk 18 holes. Then he traipses out and conquers the most demanding test in golf?

That's why he's Tiger Woods.

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