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Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods lapped the field and made history in winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif. He led from the start to finish, was the only player under par, and won byt an incredible 15 strokes.

Woods finished at 12-under-par 272, 15 strokes ahead of Ernie Els and Miguel Angle Jimenez, who tied for second at 3-over-par 287. Woods led by one stroke after the first round (65), by six after the second (134) and by 10 after the third (205).

How good was he?

He played the first 22 holes and the last 26 holes without a bogey, and didn't have a single 3-putt green all week. He made 21 birdies for the week; one of them coming when he reached the par 5 524-yard sixth hole with a drive and 205 yard 7-iron from the 5" rough.

The rest of the field was making an average of five bogeys per round; Woods made just six all week!

"To win our Open championship is a great feeling," said Woods shortly after his win. "It's just incredible. You think back to all of the hard work you put in and the times as a kid, imagining that you're trying to beat the best players in the world. And then to come up the 18th knowing that all you need to do is stay alive to win. It's just incredible!"

"If you want to watch a guy win the U.S. Open playing perfectly, you've just seen it this week," said two-time Open champion Els, who shot 72-while paired with Woods for the final round.

"It's tough going for second place and being so far behind," Els continued. "If I'd played out my mind today, I probably still would have lost by five or six or seven. Hey, Tiger is unbelievable!"

Woods made his move early, shooting a bogey-free 6-under 65 for his first round. It proved to be the low round of the week, and it gave him a one-stroke lead over Jimenez.

Foggy conditions delayed play on Friday, and Woods managed only 12 holes before his second round was halted by darkness. Still, he finished birdie-birdie and slept on a six-shot lead over Jimenez. He slipped just a bit in playing the last six holes in 1-over-par early the next morning - bogeying both remaining par 5s - but held his lead.

After rounds of 74-73, Els climbed up the leaderboard with a 3-under 68 in his third round, climbing from 37th to second. It was the only sub-par round on a windy afternoon. Woods carded an even par 71 that would have been better except for a triple-bogey 7 on the short third hole.

His short approach shot buried in the front greenside bunker. It took him two to just get out, then he chipped on and 2-putted. No problem, however. He recovered to birdie holes 6 and 7 and the rout was back on. For good measure, he birdied the hardest hole, the par 4 9th when only 12 players even found the green in regulation.

"I felt calm and at ease with myself this week, no matter what happened," said Woods. "I always kept my composure and focused on the shot I needed to hit."

While this Open was a measure for the greatness of a young player, it also was a farewell for Jack Nicklaus, arguably the greatest player of his era. Nicklaus shot a nifty 73 for his opening round, but slipped to an 82 on Friday afternoon. Still, there were thousands who cheered as he gave the fans one last Open memory. He ripped a 3-wood 240 yards into a strong cross wind to reach the par 5 final hole in two shots.

"Pebble Beach has always been a great part of my life," said Nicklaus, who has played 44 consecutive Opens with four wins.

Oddly, however, four 50 something golfers made the 63-player cut - Hale Irwin(T27), Tom Watson (T27), Tom Kite (T32) and 1999 Senior Open champion Dave Eichelberger (T57). Besides Woods, Irwin was the only other golfer with two rounds in the 60s. He had 68 to start and 69 to close but 78-81 in between, Jeffrey Wilson, who finished 59th, was the only amateur to make the cut.

It was also a time to remember fallen 1999 champion Payne Stewart, who was honored with a tribute ceremony on Wednesday morning.


Starts - 12

Best Finish - Winner 2000, 2002, 2008

Rds - 51

Cuts Made - 12

Top 3 - 6

Top 5 - 6

Top 10 - 6

Top 25 - 11

Avg. 71.24

Scores in 60s - 15

Rds Under Par - 16

Earnings - $4,988,257.10

Historical Notes
On Oct. 4, 1895, the first U.S. Open Championship was conducted by the United States Golf Association on the nine-hole course of Newport (R.I.) Golf and Country Club.
The first U.S. Open was considered something of a sideshow to the first U.S. Amateur, which was played on the same course and during the same week. Both championships had been scheduled for September but were postponed because of a conflict with a more established Newport sports spectacle, the America's Cup yacht races.
Ten professionals and one amateur started in the 36-hole competition, which was four trips around the Newport course in one day. The surprise winner was Horace Rawlins, 21, an English professional who was the assistant at the host course. Rawlins scored 91-82-173 with the gutta-percha ball.
Prize money totalled $335, of which Rawlins won the $150 first prize. He also received a gold medal and custody of the Open Championship Cup for his club for one year.
In its first decade, the U.S. Open was conducted for amateurs and the largely British wave of immigrant golf professionals coming to the United States.
As American players began to dominate the game, the U.S. Open evolved into an important world golf championship. Young John J. McDermott became the first native-born American winner in 1911 and repeated as champion in 1912.
In 1913, the U.S. Open really took off when Francis Ouimet, a 20-year-old American amateur, stunned the golf world by defeating famous English professionals, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, in a playoff.
Another surge in the championship's popularity coincided with the amazing career of Georgia amateur Bob Jones, who won the U.S. Open four times (1923, 1926, 1929, 1930). Spectator tickets were sold for the first time in 1922 and a boom in entries caused the USGA to introduce sectional qualifying in 1924.
In 1933, John Goodman became the fifth and last amateur to win the U.S. Open. The others were Ouimet, Jerome D. Travers (1915), Charles Evans Jr., (1916), and Jones.
In each era, the world's greatest players have been identified by surviving the rigorous examination provided by the U.S. Open. Ben Hogan's steely determination boosted him to four victories (1948, 1950, 1951, 1953). Arnold Palmer's record comeback win in 1960, when he fired a final round of 65 to come from seven strokes off the lead, cemented his dashing image. Jack Nicklaus' historic assault on the professional record book began when he won the first of his four U.S. Open Championships in 1962, his rookie season as a professional.
Nicklaus, who also won in 1967, 1972, and 1980, is one of only four golfers to win four U.S. Opens. The others are Willie Anderson (1901, 1903, 1904, 1905), Jones and Hogan.
In 1954, the U.S. Open course was roped from tee to green for the first time. That year also marked the first national television coverage. Coverage was expanded by ABC Sports in 1977 so that all 18 holes of the final two rounds were broadcast live. In 1982, on the ESPN cable network, the first two rounds were broadcast live for the first time. NBC began televising the U.S. Open in 1995.
The format of the U.S. Open has changed several times. The USGA extended the championship to 72 holes in 1898, with 36 holes played on each of two days. In 1926, the format was changed to 18 holes played each of two days, then 36 holes on the third day. In 1965, the present format of four 18-hole daily rounds was implemented for the first time.
In 2002, a two-tee (Nos. 1 and 10) start was used for the first and second rounds. In addition, Bethpage State Park's Black Course in Farmingdale, N.Y., was the first facility owned by the public to host a U.S. Open. International qualifying sites were added in 2005 and the champion at Pinehurst Resort in N.C. was Michael Campbell, who qualified in England.