Mediate can’t close but Tiger sure can

June 16, 2008 | Drew Forrester

If today wasn’t definitive proof that Tiger Woods is the greatest winner of our generation, no such proof exists.

Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open today.  That’s just part of the story. 

He won the tournament for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is his ability to make the shot or sink the putt when the time calls for it.  He won because Rocco Mediate couldn’t birdie the par-5 finishing hole (#18) two days in a row.  Like I wrote yesterday in my synopsis of the final round, if you can’t birdie a 527-yard par-5 with the U.S. Open on the line, you don’t deserve to win the event.  As great as he played – and make NO mistake about it…shooting even-par in an 18-hole playoff under U.S. Open conditions is a phenomenal feat – Rocco Mediate didn’t deserve the title.

Tiger needed to birdie #18 on Sunday and Monday just to stay alive.  And he birdied it both days.  Mediate needed to birdie it on Sunday and/or Monday to win the title.  He made par both days.  That’s the difference in who won and who lost.

Mediate fought gallantly and certainly created a great 5 days of memories at Torrey Pines, but make no mistake about it, he gave Tiger too many chances to win and, eventually, he ran out of chances himself. 

Woods won his 14th career major title because he’s the greatest putter alive.  Mediate nearly won his first major because he hits the ball straight.  But, today’s playoff showed that the guy who putts the best prevails over the guy who hits it the straightest.

If you have a little boy or little girl that wants to learn how to play golf, don’t give them a set of clubs for their 6th birthday.  Give them a putter and a golf ball.

Send them to the practice green and teach them how to putt.

Someday, when his time has come and gone and he’s in the books with his 20-something total of major titles, perhaps people will then appreciate just how great Tiger Woods was…and how he just refused to lose at a time when others would have said, “I’ve had a nice run here…but that’s all I have to offer.”

Someone called the show today and professed that Woods is the “greatest athlete” ever.  I don’t know that I agree with that.  In fact, I don’t agree with it.

And there’s still an argument by many that Tiger’s not even the greatest golfer of all time, although those folks will be forced to deal with reality sometime around 2010 or so when Woods buzzes past Nicklaus in career major wins.

But there’s no doubt that Woods is the greatest winner in all of sport.  Given the chance to win, he does.  Others have had similar chances in his 14 major victories, but they haven’t come through with the goods when pressed into action.

Rocco Mediate is another guy in the long list of players who “had Tiger beat” if they could have just made a putt when it mattered.  Instead, Tiger was the guy who made the putt when it mattered.  There’s a long list of those too.

Don’t worry for Rocco.  There’ll be plenty more on that list.  Make that — on BOTH lists.