Forty five year old US golfer Rocco Mediate lived the fairytale for 19 play off holes at the US Open at Torrey Pines before being eaten up by big bad Tiger Woods.
“Oh, my God, that was ridiculous,” Rocco, World No 157, said of his slightly better known opponent. “He’s hard to beat. I threw everything I had, the kitchen sink, everything right at him.”
Throughout the five days of a remarkable tournament, Rocco laughed and joked his way into being a crowd and viewer favorite.
Whatever happed on the course itself, it was remarkable that there were people sitting in the 18th hole grandstand at 6am, when the two players weren’t due to pass by there themselves, just once, till after one in the afternoon.
All the people in grandstands on the way – it was like going to the motor races when two cars were only going to do the circuit once. There was an estimated crowd of some 25,000.
When talking about Rocco, it is hard not to compare him to an animated character. He says all that smiling, chatter and pacing is nervous energy coming out.
When things started getting really serious in the playoff, – particularly after the 10th and when Rocco came back and birdied 13, 14 and 15 and pulled one stroke ahead – it seemed when he wasn’t smiling he was sweating. He looked like he was hyper sweating like some exaggerated cartoon character.
It should not be forgotten that Rocco is a 20 year tour veteran who has battled a bad back for a number of years. He would have been the youngest ever US Open winner and the youngest ever first time major winner.
Rocco knew he was living a golfing dream and was determined to enjoy every minute of it.
“It was a blast. I’ve never had more fun and more insanity. It’s just amazing,” he said after his fourth round tie with Woods forced the playoff.
“Oh, my God, I get to play for the National Open against the best player on earth, that maybe has ever played. How much more could you ask for?”
Just days after winning his 14th major, Tiger Woods announced he will have reconstructive surgery on his left knee that will sideline him for the rest of the 2008 season.
Woods will have reconstructive surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament and will require time off to rehabilitate a double stress fracture of his left tibia that was found last month.
Doctors say the long term prognosis for the 32 year old is good, but Woods is expected to limit the number of tournaments he plays annually in future.