Lee Westwood just misses out on playoff
Lee Westwood waited so long to come up this short.
Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate will face off in an 18-hole tiebreaker for the U.S. Open championship Monday without Westwood, who would have joined the playoff party if his 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole hadn’t come up inches shy of the cup.
“I’m struggling to even think who is in the playoff,” Westwood said. “It’s not really in the front of my mind, to be brutally honest.”
Dashed were his dreams of becoming the first Englishman in 38 years to win the U.S. Open.
After his putt rolled off right of the cup, a dejected Westwood, who had gone toe-to-toe with Woods just as he had predicted, tapped in and watched Woods do what he couldn’t.
Woods holed his 12-foot birdie putt, the ball curling into the right side of the cup to force the playoff with Mediate.
Woods said the green “was a little wobbly down there” and so pure a stroke “because once it starts rolling down there, it’s kind of like playing Plinko. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
That tricky final green turned Westwood’s hopes of a tiebreaker into a heartbreaker.
“Well, it’s sickening not to be in the playoff tomorrow,” Westwood said. “But all in all I played pretty good all week and if somebody said you’re going to have a chance from 20 feet for a playoff on Monday, then I would have probably taken that at the start of the week.
“So while I’m disappointed, I’m pleased with myself and I think that I’ve proved to myself and a few others that I think there is a major championship in me.”
Just not this week at Torrey Pines, a test of golf and grit that left just Woods and Mediate in red numbers at 1-under 283 after 72 holes.
Westwood’s 284 earned him a consolation of $484,595.
So shaken was he by his close call that Westwood didn’t know if he was going to watch Woods try to win his 14th major or Mediate try to become the first golfer ranked outside the top 100 (he’s 157th in the world ranking) to win a U.S. Open.
Westwood and Woods made the turn tied with Mediate, who was playing in the group ahead, atop the leaderboard at 1-under.
But things started to falter for Westwood on the back nine, where he bogeyed Nos. 10, 12 and 13—where he even lost his ball—before recovering with a birdie on 14.
That Westwood hung with Woods shouldn’t be a surprise. He’s the only player ever to beat Woods when Woods has led by more than one shot going into the final round of a tournament.
In trying to cap a remarkable comeback in which he has gone from fourth in the world down to the 200s and back to No. 20, Westwood tapped into his experience in five Ryder Cups, which he said prepared him for the pressure and partisan crowd he had expected.
Yet he didn’t find the pro-Woods gallery as menacing as he had feared.
“The crowds were great. You got a few people shouting odd comments, but that is the absolute minority,” Westwood said. “In general, they were absolutely fantastic and I got cheered on all day. I was quite surprised, really. There were a lot of ‘Come on, Lee.’ So no complaints.”