2008 US Open Playoff Live Blogging

On the first, Rocco is introduced first.

Rocco’s first drive of the playoff goes to the left side of the fairway. Tiger hits it out of bound near a bunker, bue gets a nice bounce and it ends up in the fairway.

The two are laughing with each other as they walk down the fairway.

Rocco’s second is not good, landing in a bunker to the right of the green. Tiger hits the green on the lower level.

Rocco’s sand shot is on line, but slides 10 feet past teh hole.

Tiger’s lag goes fife feet past.

Rocco’s par putt is pretty poor. He taps in for a bogey.

Tiger taps in for a par and takes a one shot lead.

Woods: E
Mediate: +1

On the tee at the second Tiger has a fairway wood. It heads left just short of the bunker.

Rocco with a wood, just off the fairway in the rough to the right. The ball is sitting up.

Woods has 129 to the hole. The iron is short and right.

Rocco also with an iron, about he same distance. He misses wide right. A bad shot. He’s probably got twenty feet to the green.

Rocco’s third at the second. An uphill lie. It’s a good shot. He gets it in par distance—a little too far to be a sure thing.

Tiger’s got a chip at the hole holeon the lower tier. He leaves it inexcusably short. A very poor shot, especially for the Tigernator.

Tiger has a longer putt than Rocco, but its straight into the hole. You expect him to make this. He does.

Rocco’s putt is shorter, but trickier. It’s sort of sideways into the hole. About five feet, I think. He drains it.

Woods:E
Mediate: +1

Over to the par 3 third. It’s at 188 yards today.

Tiger has a 7 iron. His shot bombs out of the sky, a little left of the flag, and comes up short, burying itself in the sand. Tiger looks distressed.

Rocco has a six iron. The ball rolls just past the hole. He nearly puts it in. It’s a short putt for a birdie.

Tiger’s ball is buried and on the face of the bunker. He pops it out and it runs a long way past the hole. It’s maybe 20 feet. He misses an inch or two right, and it slides two feet past. He now putts for bogey. It’s finally in.

Rocco with the birdie putt. It’s in and he takes a one shot lead.

Woods: +1
Mediate: E

Rocco on the fourth. It’s 448 yards today. He has a driver in hand. It’s just off the fairway on the left. In the first cut of rough, but he has a good angle to the green.

Tiger’s shot is way left in the rough on the left.

Tiger has 228 to the hole. The ball is above his feet. He’s going to be able to use the bank to the right of the green to feed the ball back in. The ball takes off hot and then heads left. He falls short.

Rocco has a hybrid, the ball above his feet. He plays it perfectly, and it bounces on the green. It’s on the tier below the flag, but he’s dancing.

An interview: Rocco says that he’s playing the best golf he’s every played. No kidding.

Tiger’s third gets to within a couple of feet of the hole.
They’re pointing out that Rocco had to qualify for one of seven spots out of eleven players just to get into the championship.

Rocco’s lag putt is quite good, about three feet from the hole. He’s playing a Sabertooth putter.

Rocco is away. He just squeezes the putt in. Tiger’s is a gimmie.

Woods: +1
Mediate: E

The fifth is playing at 453 today. Rocco’s shot misses the fairway badly. Not a good spot.

Tiger’s tee shot fingds the middle of the fairway.

Tiger is away. His second hits the green but wide left.

It turns out Rocco is in a trap. He has 157 to the hole. It tails left, hits a path, bounces impossibly high, hits cart path again, bounces high and then settles down somewhere near the third hole.

His foot slipped.

Amazingly, Rocco has a decent lie and a clear shot at the green. He pitches it up and it rolls to the right fringe, then stops, and rolls back to the green. Tigeresque luck, that.

Tiger’s putt squeezes left. He’s still got a couple of feet to go. Rocco has about ten feet. It’s just left. He taps in for bogey. He really needed that putt.

Tiger makes his par. They’re all even.

Woods: +1
Mediate: +1

On the sixth, Tiger cuts it around the eucalyptus tree and hits fairway. Rocco also hooks it around the tree and finds fairway—but 23 yards hebind woods.

Rocco has 200 yards to the green. He’s contemplating five iron. 215 to the hole. He misses right and it runs to the back of the green. He needed a six iron; there was a lot of bounce in that.

Tiger has 185. He’s hitting eight iron. He hits it very hard and high. It’s right on the flatstick. Birdie to come.

Rocco is going to chip it on—I would putt it—and needs to get it down to the first level. He chunks it a bit, and it just pulls over the ridge. He has a six foot shot at par.

Tiger’s bird is good. Rocco’s putt is not a sure thing. It should be straight in from there. It is.

Rocco is still hanging in there. He’s not doing what most Tiger opponents do: fold and give the tournament away. So far it looks as though he’s going to make Tiger work for it.

Woods: E
Mediate: +1

At the seventh, a 461 yard par 4. Tiger hits driver and it finds the middle of the fairway. Perfection.

Rocco hits his typical shot and is just an inch off the fairway right. The ball is sitting up. He hits the green, but to the right of the flag, twenty feet or so.

Tiger has 145 to the hole after a 315 yard drive. His iron into the green will give him a chance at birdie.

Rocco is studying the putt from the side of the green. His birdie putt is very long but falls just a foot short. A terrific putt.

It’s interesting that under pressure, players start leaving them short. I tend to get jumpy and send them long.

Tiger’s putt look slightly uphill, from the right side of the hole. He holes it for a birdie, and takes a two shot lead.

Woods: -1
Mediate: +1

The par 3 eighth measures 171. The hole is on the right side of the green—the only part of the green that’s doesn’t leave a blind shot.

Tiger is long and into a bunker, where his ball half buries itself.

Rocco falls short and right. He can still get a par.

Interesting thing about Rocco. He never stops moving his feet, twitching his clubs right up until the moment of the backswing.

Tiger’s bunker shot flies the green and rolls down next to Rocco’s tee shot.

Rocco chips to within a par putt distance.

Tiger’s third is a couple of feet from the hole. He’ll have a short putt for bogey. He should make it easily. It’s above the hole, slightly to the left. He nails it.

Rocco makes his par putt and picks up a shot

These par threes are the equalizer so far. Tiger hits it so much further than Rocco, that on the par 4s and fives, he has the advantage.

It’s something to think about when tournaments are trying to Tiger proof their courses. In making the courses longer, they’re only ensuring that Tiger will be the winner. They’re playing right into his hands. Making shorter holes gives other, perhaps more accurate players an opening—a chance to pay their games. On ultra long courses, everyone is playing Tiger’s game.

Woods: E
Mediate: +1

Rocco on the par 5 ninth, at 612 yards. He hits fairway. Tiger with a driver also hits fairway, and grimaces over the knee.

Rocco is away and laying up.. His shot goes right and into the rough. How do you not get your layup into the fairway? Nerves?

Tiger has out driven Rocco by 30 yards. He has 287 to the hole and is hitting five wood. The wood misses left and lands in one of the bunkers in the complex.

He’s 105 from the green, and using a pitching wedge. It’s a good shot, hits just to the left of the hole and bounces by.

Tiger out of the bunker. He’s got to carry the one in front of him and put it on the green. He leaves it short in the rough, just beyond the second bunker. He chips his fourth onto the green. His chip is good, but not great. The ball is below the hole, right, and a few feet short.

Woods: E
Mediate: +2

On ten. Tiger’s tee shot is into the trees. Rocco’s second shot is short.

Tiger’s third shot on the tenth is 69 from the hole, on the edge of the rough. He spins it right back off the green.

Tiger’s putt onto the green is way short. Again, pressure causing them to get tentative

Tiger still has 18 feet to go. It looks like it’s going to miss, but somehow spins back in.

Rocco putt for par just misses. and give Tiger a three shot lead.

Woods: E
Mediate: +3

Tiger on the 11th. 192 yards with a five iron.  He falls short left in the bunker.

Rocco has to do something here. With a four iron. It’s dead on, in the middle of the green.

Tiger’s bunker shot slides past the hole ten or twelve feet. He’s got practically no chance here—but then again it’s Tiger.

Rocco’s birdie putt is not good. But he makes par.

Johnny Miller notes that someone in the future is going to start making putts against Tiger. That’s really where he dominates, isn’t it?

Tiger has a long par putt here. It will move right to left. He studies it for a long time. Interestingly, he’s in a deep knee crouch. The knee doesn’t seem to be bothering him here.

He’s tentative and the putt fall short. A tap-in for par.

Woods: +1
Mediate: +3

On the 12th, an uphill 505 yard par 4.

Rocco’s tee shot finds fairway on the very difficult 12th. Tiger hits a fairway bunker.

Rocco is 243 from the hole. He hits a wood, and just kills it. The ball rolls to the left of the hole, pin high.

Tiger from the bunker. He has no chance of getting to the green. Tiger chunks it, swears, and the ball falls short right in the rough.

Tiger’s third is a difficult, below the feet pitch. He makes a poor shot, not carrying it as far as he needed to.

Did I just say Tiger hit a poor shot? Poor for him, that is. I’d have been inordinately pleased He’s going to need a miracle putt to par.

Rocco has a birdie attempt. He misses left and it slides too par past to make it a gimme.

Tiger taking his time. Johny Miller talking abotu how Tiger “wills” them into the hole.He misses left. and again, it’s not a gimmie.

He’s away again. Tiger should make this one. He does for a bogey.

Rocco makes the par putt.

Woods: +2
Mediate: +3

On the thirteenth—my least favorite hole on the course. It’s at 539 yards.

Rocco leads off. He hits fairway on the left misses the rough by only a couple of inches.

Tiger misses left into the rough.

Tiger using his driver as a walking stick.

Rocco is away, of course. He has a wood. He hits it flush and just falls a yard short. The ball bounces into the bunker. Not bad.

Tiger has an iron out of the rough. It goes very high and hits the green, rolls to the back. The announcers are talking about eagle, but it’s a long way from there.

Rocco out of the sand, a nice shot, heads left and is in range for a birdie.

Tiger for the Eagle putt. It’s sideways to the hole. He doesn’t quite give it enough. It’s a sure birdie, though.

Rocco needs to make this bird. It’s a tricky putt, should be aimed inside left. He draisn it. Birdie to keep pace with Tiger’s sure bird.

Tiger gets the bird.

Woods: +1
Mediate: +2

Rocco is still hanging in there.

On to the 14th. This is a short par 4, at 277 to the middle of the green. The hole is up front.

Rocco with a wood. It’s a nice shot off the tee that isin the fairway, just short of the green.

Tiger also with a wood. He misses short, and is in the right rough. Tiger’s going to hit a wedge on. It’s short; he chunked it. He has a ten footer from beneath the hole for par.

Rocco’s chip is straight at the hole. He has a very short birdie putt. He doesn’t mark it, doesn’t even pick it up, but taps it in.

Pressure now on Tiger. The birdie putt lips out.

Woods: +1
Mediate: +1

On the fifteenth.

Rocco hits a nice tee shot on the fairway right. Tiger’s drive goes into the crowd right, outside the ropes.

Tiger’s in a bunker on the adjourining fairway. That’s a good break.

Rocco’s second to the fifteenth is 191 to the hole. A great shot. The ball rolls right to the side. Not a realistic birdie, but certainly a par.

Out of the sand, Tiger hits it inside Rocco’s. Very Tigeresque.

Rocco drains an improbable putt for a birdie. He’s back to even. The crowd goes insane.

This is one of the few times we’ve seen someone—anyone not melt in the face of Tiger.

Tiger misses his short putt. Good heavens. He makes the par.

Mediate: E
Woods: +1

On the 16th. It’s a 225 yard shot.

Rocco’s four iron is in the fairway, right in front of the green, a little short. Just a chip and a putt.

Tiger has switched clubs a couple of times. He hits green and rolls just on.

Rocco is using a putter from off the green. That’s a good play, and one I use all the time. It eliminates the chance of a chunk or skull. A good lag that just barely misses going in.

Rocco has had a lot of those near misses that, but for an inch or two would have him three up.

Tiger also has a long putt. He’s pacing about. I think he’s nervous. And why wouldn’t he be. No one has ever stood up to him like this before. This is new territory.

Tiger’s lag is short by a half turn of the ball. No Tiger luck there. Again, under pressure, being tentative.

Rocco in for par. The ball bounces off the back of the hole.

Mediate: E
Woods: +1

On the 17th, a par 4 that measures 441 yards.

Rocco’s tee shot is in the first cut. Tiger with a fairway wood hits a big draw and lands in the fairway at about the same yardage as Rocco.

Tiger is 162 to the hole. He’s studying the shot a long time. He switches clubs a couple of times. He takes it left of the flag, about 20 yard past.

Rocco out of the short rough. Rocco doesn’t hesitate. He steps up and hits it. The ball skips off the front, and on to the front of the green.

Rocco’s lag puts him in eight foot par range. Tiger has a long putt. He leaves it short. Again. Taps in.

Rocco drains the putt for a par.

Mediate: E
Woods: +1

On to the 18th.

Rocco tees off first. He waggles, and swings. The shot is pulled into the bunker. Not that bad. He was going to lay up anyway.

Tiger needs a birdie at least, so he’s got to go for it. The drive is monstrous, and gets into the middle of the fairway. He can get to the green with his second.

From out of the bunker, Rocco hits back to the fairway.

Tiger with a four iron to the green. The shot is a high cut at the center fo the green. It’s well short of the hole, but is safely on.

Rocco needs to get it up and in. His approach is inside Tiger’s about 20 feet from the hole. He can birdie.

At least there was no van de Velde moment here.

The crowd is cheering Rocco on. The atmosphere is electrifying.

They just showed a shot of Rocco leading the corwd in applauding Woods.

Tiger’s putt for Eagle is long. Rocco has a putt to win the US Open. The announcers are saying that this nto not that difficult—exept for all the pressure.

It’s very long. I don’t think he can make it. Rocco misses left. He’ll make the comebacker.

Tiger has a putt for birdie to get even. He’s called Steve Williams in for a second opinion. He steps away just as he lines up. A seagull distracted him.

He drains it. Now Rocco has to make the putt for par to continue to a sudden death situation.

Rocco makes the putt.

On to sudden death.

It’s incredible. No one has ever taken The Great One to this sort of finish. Win or lose, Rocco is a champion. Nerves of steel. He’s shown the rest fo the golfing world how to beat Tiger.

It’s only the third sudden death in US Open history.

They’re heading back to the 7th tee. You’ve got to think this favors Tiger. They should have gone back to the first.

Tiger is icing his opponent. Rocco hurried over to the seventh, and Tiger is taking his sweet time about it.

Tiger’s steps back from the tee and takes some more practice swings. His tee shot hits the fairway on the right side, just off the fairway.

Rocco really is doomed on this hole. He can’t cut the corner like Tiger did. His tees shot lands in the fairway bunker left. I think he tried too hard.

Rocco pulls it. It hits cart path, and bounces next to the grandstand.

It’s over. After playing near perfect golf for eighteen holes—36 including the fourth round, Rocco has made two mistakes here.

Tiger’s going to put the ball on the green and putt in for birdie.

Tiger’s shot is below the hole, just off the green.

Rocco gets a free drop in the drop zone. He’s got a better angle and may get a good lie. His only chance is to get into par range. It bounces lands in the circle and rolls just outside. Not bad.

Rules thought: as long as it lands inside the drop zone, it’s ok.

His shot is very good. He has a 20 footer for par. He needs Tiger to miss.

I hate to say it, but this one is over.

Tiger’s going to putt first. It’s up and just short. Tiger falls to his knees.

Tiger taps in.

Rocco has another chance. He needs to make this very long putt. He misses by an inch. And it’s over.

Tiger hugs Rocco. There’s no fist pumping this time. And rightfully so. He hasn’t won so much as survived. He hugs Stevie.

Hanging in there with this man. He’s so hard to be obviously. He’s unreal. I would have loved to have won. It was a great day. Three down from 10 I thought it was over quick. But I kept hanging around.

Post round interview with Rocco:

This is huge for me. Just to stay here again.

Did it ever cross your midn that you might not have another chance like this?

Of course. I really can’t complain.

This has shown me that I still can complete. I got what I wanted—a chance to play the best player in the world.

Rocco jumped 111 spots to 47th.

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