My latest Sympatico column, on Graeme McDowell’s win on Sunday, or Tiger Woods’ loss (depending on how you look at it), can be found here.
Here’s a taste if that’s not enough to interest you:
A year ago Tiger Woods backed his SUV into a tree, a mishap that led to the complete dismantling of his image and the unravelling of his life. It also led to Woods forgoing his own charity tournament – the Chevron World Challenge – a decision that gave little-known Irishman Graeme McDowell, then No. 55 in the world, the opportunity to join the field.
Talk about making the most of a surprise opportunity. McDowell finished second at last year’s Chevron, moving into the Top 50 in the world, which provided him the spring board into golf’s major championships. He turned one of those appearances into a U.S. Open win, and yesterday came full circle, charging back from four shots down heading into the final round to beat Woods, who led for the first three days of the California event.
For McDowell, the win solidifies him as one of the grittiest, gutsiest golfers on the planet, a player who overcomes seemingly insurmountable pressure to make clutch putts. He rolled in two yesterday – a 20-foot bomb the final hole in regulation to tie Woods and force a playoff and a second Hail Mary once again on the 18th green on the first hole of the playoff to better the former World No. 1 golfer. It was, as McDowell would say after the round, “the stuff of dreams.”
For Woods, the loss was a suitable finish to his Annus horribilis, a time when both his personal and professional lives have been in turmoil. Woods had never lost a tournament when he had a three-shot lead heading into the final round, with a record of 28-0. That’s another blemish on a year full of bruises for Woods.