Tiger Woods' dramatic birdie putt on the final hole of regulation at today's U.S. Open, in all likelihood, did more than put him into an 18-hole Monday playoff with Rocco Mediate to settle the title. It probably secured Woods' 14th major championship.
Unless Woods' surgically repaired knee becomes more troublesome Monday than it appeared down the stretch Sunday, you can pencil in Woods for a victory _ perhaps a lopsided one _ in Monday's playoff at Torrey Pines. Mediate is one of the most likable competitors on the PGA Tour. But it's hard to like his chances in a head-to-head showdown with Woods.
Mediate, 45, has only five career victories at tour events. He has not won a tour event in six years and his major-championship resume is spotty. His best finish in any major, until this week, was a fourth-place finish at the 2001 U.S. Open.
Logic says Woods wins in a walk Monday. I can't, and won't, argue with that logic.
But there is one historical footnote that golf fans should be aware of as they tune in Monday's telecast: The last time the U.S. Open offered such a lopsided matchup in Monday playoff occurred in 1955, when journeyman Jack Fleck stunned Ben Hogan, the golf legend from Fort Worth, and denied Hogan what would have been his fifth Open title.
_ Jimmy Burch