Torrey Pines: The Site of the Greatest U.S. Open Victory by Tiger Woods
Sadly I never got to see Tiger Woods celebrate after he rolled in the birdie putt to tie Rocco Mediate on the 72nd hole of the 108th U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. That’s because as I stood along the left side of the 18th fairway, everyone and their mother jumped in unison once Tiger's ball rolled into the cup. I had never seen such pandemonium on a golf course.
Before that drama unfolded on the green, I was lucky to stand along the left side of the 18th fairway when I saw Tiger’s ball bounce into the fairway bunker that was right in front of me. Btw Nike’s Phil Knight was standing next to us when that had happened. You could hear a loud gasp because it seemed that the poor tee shot by Tiger diminished his chances for making a birdie and advancing to a playoff. You could feel the tension and angst in the crowd — we all wanted to see Tiger pull this miracle off: winning the U.S. Open with a broken leg.
Tiger miraculously birdied the 18th hole which added to his legend. I found a great article by Bob Harig on ESPN that retold the 2008 U.S. Open. That weekend may go down as the most legendary U.S. Open because it had Tiger winning on one leg and it also reminded us that there may never be a better clutch putter than Tiger Woods. In addition to the 18th hole craziness, I will also remember:
- Barry Bonds was huge. My buddy is a big guy standing at 6'2" and 245 lbs. When Bonds stood next to him I couldn’t believe that he was bigger than him — dwarfed him actually.
- The late afternoon Saturday roars. The 3rd round was winding down and you could hear roars from afar and we all knew they were Tiger roars. Tiger made a long putt from across the green on 13, chipped in on 17 and eagled 18. And it was the back 9 that you saw him in immense pain from the broken leg.
- Bumping into Aaron Eckhart AKA Two-Face AKA Harvey Dent of Batman fame.
You all know the legend of the 108th U.S. Open. But now I shift to Torrey Pines and what an amazing place that is.
Amazing because it’s a major championship course that’s public. You’re lucky if you’re a resident because the rates are far more generous than those who come to visit. But it’s well worth it, playing both the heralded South Course and also its sister North Course.
This weekend Torrey Pines is hosting the Farmers Insurance Open and I’m reminded of the beautiful views and also of the bumpy greens. This is a course that gets a lot of traffic and so you’ll never have putts that roll like they do at Augusta. But what you will have are beautiful approach shots with the ocean as a backdrop.
And on some holes if you overshoot the green, it’s not going to be an easy recovery shot. Best to play conservative, especially when the pin is back.
If you do get to the San Diego area, head over to Torrey Pines and play a round on the South Course. And afterwards, go check out the views from the cliffs by UCSD. The coeds there get to enjoy the amazing views of the Pacific Ocean every single day. How does one study there? I’d play golf and just chill along the cliffs if I studied there.