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Golf Talk: Tiger and Rocco, Best of Friends

Wednesday, 25 Jun 2008 12:22 PM

By Anthony Pioppi

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  • Tiger and Rocco, Best of Friends

  • Back To You, Johnny

  • Westwood: 'I Have a Major Championship in Me'

  • Heath Slocum, the Other U.S. Open Star

  • Wie Record Falls to 10-Year-Old


    Tiger and Rocco, Best of Friends

    You just knew that once Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate stepped behind the microphones in the press tent following their epic battle for the U.S. Open they were going to heap praise upon each other — especially since Mediate has dealt with a reoccurring back injury and Woods is coming off his third knee surgery.

    “It was a great battle all week,” Woods said. “I was up and down, up and down, up and down all week, and then the playoff."

    "Everyone knows Rocco was in bad shape last year, and for him to be back out here and playing this well. Honestly, it was an unbelievably gutsy performance. He put so much pressure on me today, and he played well all week. This is probably the greatest tournament I’ve ever had,” Woods said.

    Mediate was not to be outdone: “Hanging in there with this man, he is just so hard to beat. He’s unreal. Obviously, I would have loved to have won. Three down through 10, I thought it was over. The fans were great; this was huge for me."

    "I was nervous as a cat, but I handled it,” Mediate said. “He's got me by 14 years. He's got me by a thousand yards off the tee. And I kept hanging in there, hanging in there, hanging in there.”

    Back To You, Johnny Miller

    ESPN and NBC both covered the U.S. Open, handing the broadcast back and forth during the first two rounds, creating the illusion that dozens of announcers were rotating through studio.

    The best exchange came Sunday via NBC as Lee Westwood stood on the tee after making bogey from the fairway on the previous hole. Dan Hicks, who tried to fawn over every player on every shot, said of Westwood, “He’s really been impressive in this fishbowl of a major.”

    Johnny Miller replied, “He wasn’t too impressive on the last hole.”

    Westwood: 'I Have a Major Championship in Me'

    Lee Westwood is another one of those players who’s accumulated plenty of victories but none of them a major. As a result, he has more than his share of doubters who think he will never take home one of the four biggest trophies in golf.

    The affable Englishman has 18 titles on the European PGA Tour and one on the PGA Tour. In his 39 appearances in majors, Westwood finished in the top 10 five times, two came at the US Open — seventh in 1998 and a tie for fifth in 2000. He was trying to become the first European winner of the U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970.

    He missed the playoff for the U.S. Open by a shot after carding a solid even-par round.

    “This has been a great Open championship. Obviously I would have liked to have played better, but the way the course has been presented, the way it was set up, it was the fairest, best test of golf,” Westwood said.

    “It gave the best players a chance to separate themselves. The mixture of tee boxes and movement of pin placements was strategically the best it's ever been and really rewards great shot-making as well as the ability to recover.”

    Westwood said he is using his strong finish as a stepping stone to new heights.

    “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.”

    Heath Slocum the Other U.S. Open Star

    Lost in the fourth-round theater at the U.S. Open was the best score, not just for this Open, but in last five years.

    Heath Slocum shot a six-under-par 65 at Torrey Pines, the best round in a United States Open since Vijay Singh shot 63 in the second round in 2003. Slocum, 34, had never made an Open cut.

    “I made some big par saves and some long putts and I took advantage of pretty much every good shot I hit today,” he said. “I have a 6-month-old daughter. I was just kind of thinking about her and enjoying myself. It’s obviously fun when you play like that.”

    Slocum had six birdies and finished in a tie with four others for ninth place, with a 288 total.

    Michelle Wie Record Falls to 10-Year-Old

    Allisen Corpuz has erased Michelle Wie’s name from one record.

    Corpuz, a Hawaiian native, become the youngest qualifier ever for a USGA event when she made it into the U.S. Women’s Public Links Championship being played at Erin Hills Golf Course in Wisconsin.

    Corpuz, shot an eight-over 81 in the first round and is 10 years, 3 months old. Wie was previously the youngest to qualify at 10 years, 7 months old in 2000.

    Corpuz handled the feat at Wailua Golf Club in Hawaii. She was first alternate until medalist Cyd Okino withdrew after qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open, opening the door for the 5-foot, 111-pounder.

    Her father, Marcos Corpuz, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his daughter began playing at the age of 4. “I think it’s really cool,” Allisen said of her accomplishment. “I know who Michelle Wie is, but I’ve never met her.”

    Allisen, according to her father, is no Wie fan. In February when Wie was at the LPGA’s Field’s Open in Hawaii, she was not cordial to her young fans.

    “Michelle Wie wasn’t very nice to the kids at the tournament,” Marcos said. “She didn’t seem to want to be around them, so she definitely is not Allisen’s role model. Allisen likes Morgan Pressel because she was much friendlier with the kids. She let all the kids take pictures with her.”

    Morgan Pressel’s sister, Madison, was among the 156 competitors at Erin Hills.

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