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Thanks, Tiger; now let’s see what Annika can do

June 23, 2008

by Matt Kane

Did anybody see Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate battle for the US Open championship a couple weekends ago?

All I can say is, wow.

I don’t spend too many weekends sitting on the couch watching golf on television, but, sometimes, there is little more I would rather do.

After a long Winstock weekend, all I wanted to do June 15 was relax by watching the final round of the national championship. And, man, I’m glad I did.

I didn’t even know who was leading the tournament before I sat down at about 5 p.m., but, it turned out nobody knew who was winning, because the top of the leader board seemed to change so often.

And then, on the 18th hole at Torrey Pines, Tiger Woods did what Tiger Woods does. He drained a 12-foot birdie putt that tied him with Mediate for the low tournament score after 72 holes.

The putt didn’t just drop to the bottom of the cup. Oh, no, there was drama when Tigers’ Titleist caught the right edge of the cup and rode the rim, taking a quick left turn before dropping. Toilet water doesn’t swirl as well as that ball did.

Tiger’s clutch putt on 18 forced a playoff, but not just any playoff. Much to my delight, the playoff was a complete 18-hole round of golf, which would be played Monday.

“Sweet,” I thought to myself, knowing Mondays are my down day.

So, there I was on a beautiful Monday afternoon, sitting on the couch folding T-shirts and balling-up socks in between golf shots from Tiger and Rocco.

The NBC broadcasters mentioned once how many of these playoffs are decided early in the round when one golfer takes a demanding lead, but, as you may have seen, that wasn’t the case June 15.

The 19th hole on a golf course usually doesn’t involve golf clubs at all, but at Torrey Pines that day, the 19th required clubs, golf balls, and an excited gallery of people.

As you know, Tiger won the tournament when Rocco missed a putt on the 91st hole of the tournament.

Ninety-one holes to decide the US Open — now, that is exciting.

Let’s just hope the excitement of the men’s tournament carries over to the US Women’s Open, which comes to Interlachen Country Club in Edina today (Monday).

All week, the world’s best female golfers will be playing just a short drive away for one of the biggest trophies in their sport.

It’s obvious by the television coverage both tours get that the PGA is much more popular than the LPGA, but forget about television for this week. Just think about how good these girls are.

We all know about Tiger, but how can we forget about Annika Sorenstam?

Sorenstam already has three tour wins and eight top-10 finishes in just 11 events this season. In her career, she has won 72 LPGA tournaments, including 10 majors.

By comparison, Tiger has won 65 PGA Tour tournaments and 14 majors.

And don’t forget, Sorenstam is retiring after this year, so this week’s tournament, which begins Thursday, is her final US Women’s Open.

I have never been to an LPGA Tour event, but I was granted a press credential, and I plan to use it this week to go see Sorenstam play.

Don’t forget about the others who will battle Sorenstam for the tournament trophy.

Christie Kerr is the defending champion, but has not won yet this season.

Lorena Ochoa is atop the money list with almost $2 million this season, just ahead of Sorenstam ($1.4 million).

I’m not going to pretend I know enough to make a prediction for this week’s tournament, so I won’t.

I’m going to head over to Interlachen with a clear mind, and just observe the world’s best female golfers in action.

I can only hope these women give us a show like Tiger and Rocco did just a week ago.