Just when we thought we had seen just about everything from Tiger Woods, he once again finds a spectacular way to defy the odds and come out on top in a major.
It wasn’t the fact that he won. It was how he won that made this win special, and it also reinforced why he has no serious challengers or rivals. Tiger gets it done whether he is on his game or not, hurt, sick, you name it.
Besides his golf game, what Tiger has deep down is something unmatched by his peers. His focus and attention to detail can’t be shaken. It doesn’t matter to him whether there are 25,000 watching him take a big shot, or whether it is a practice shot on the range. His focus is the same.
His colleagues will eventually shrink under the pressure of the moment, or the fact that they are competing with Tiger. Woods not only believes that he will win, but he knows when the pressure is on he will perform his best.
The Mickelson’s, Garcia’s, Westwood’s, El’s, and Singh’s can’t honestly say that. They aren’t wired that way. The late Earl Woods trained and raised Tiger to be a once in a lifetime player, and to be the best, most disciplined player the sport has ever seen.
He is the most imaginative, creative, and athletic professional golfer in the sport’s history, and his work ethic is unparalleled. It is as if the other players are not even out there. Tiger is focused on becoming what he already knows he is and nothing else: the best player ever, with the most majors.
He is playing against himself basically. He didn’t beat Rocco Mediate on Monday, June 16th. He beat Mediate when his father (a former green beret) developed his mental focus, intestinal fortitude, and razor sharp game when he was a boy. What we are seeing is the manifestation of what was deposited in Tiger when he was just a kid.
The other top players on the tour don’t believe they can win if they are neck and neck with Woods over the course of a last round, or even if they are ahead. They believe Tiger will do something spectacular to beat them.
Add to the fact that if you are in the same group with him, you are overwhelmed by the size of the gallery following him, and at some point get nervous.
Mediate made one big miscalculation in this U.S. Open. It was during the eighteen hole playoff, and Rocco was ahead by one stroke with par 5 left. He knew that Tiger would find a way to make a birdie. Mediate needed to make birdie on that hole and force Tiger to make eagle, if he was serious about winning.
Anything less would be asking for Woods to extend the match. If he didn’t have that mindset, then he was playing to lose.
Tiger himself said that this was his greatest accomplishment. Oh, and did I mention that he had a bum knee due to surgery, and other than abbreviated practice, didn’t play since the last major.
Kudos to Rocco Mediate for putting up a fight, but we are in the middle of watching history happen and the books re-written, courtesy of Tiger Woods. Enjoy the ride.