Second round at U.S. Open proves to be hard work ... and not just for Tiger
ESPN.com contributor Bob Smiley tailed Tiger Woods for the entire 2008 season, chronicling Tiger's triumphs inside the ropes and his own adventures outside them. The following is an exclusive excerpt from his new book, Follow The Roar, available from HarperCollins in bookstores everywhere.
U.S. Open -- Second Round
How impressive was Tiger Woods' victory at the U.S. Open? Besides winning in a playoff against Rocco Mediate, Woods managed to capture arguably golf's most grueling major with a torn ACL and a broken leg.
• Tiger tops Rocco on 91st hole
• Forde: Tiger's win was greatest Open ever
• Haney puts Open No. 1 on Tiger's win list
• Jason Sobel blogged the playoff
• Tiger done for the year with torn ACL
4:23 p.m. -- I would have thought the pain would make Tiger take a more gentle approach to the course. Instead, he is now trying to overpower it.On the short par-4 second, he booms a drive 350 yards, then rams a 25-foot putt into the cup. Back-to-back birdies. His caddy Stevie Williams saddles over to him and gives him a frat boy, congratulatory shove. The push nearly knocks Tiger over, and he hops away on his right foot before reburying the injury. Despite Stevie's best efforts, it seems like Tiger is finding his rhythm for the first time in months.
5:07 p.m. -- After a par on the par-3 third, Tiger birdies the fourth hole for the second straight day, this one a 20-foot putt with the Pacific Ocean making a blue backdrop behind his right-armed fist pump.But he's still not done. On the fifth hole he makes another birdie. Mickelson pours one in on top of him, which the crowd loves, but there's no question about the story of the day. Tiger's front 9 scorecard now reads 3-3-3-3-3. He's played his opening five holes in 4 under par. I pass yet another drunk guy. "That's sick," he says, summing up Tiger's play. The stretch has taken him from 3 over to 1 under in just over an hour. 5:59 p.m. -- After Tiger pars Nos. 5 and 6, I run down the downhill, dogleg-right par-4 7th and find a spot 50 up from the green. Tiger has put yet another approach shot within birdie range, 15 feet left of the back-right pin. The combination of summer heat, heavy drinking, and Tiger's rediscovered game leads the tubby fan next to me to threaten, "If Tiger makes this, I might have to run across the hole naked." Considering the six empty beer cups stacked on top of each other in his hand, I think he's serious. As Tiger takes his last practice stroke, I've never had a stranger motivation to want a putt to fall. The chance to see Officer Freymueller, the hulking San Diego cop assigned to Tiger this week, figure out how to arrest a fat naked man without actually touching him would be the perfect finish to an amazing nine holes. One person is definitely rooting against Tiger: the man sitting at waist level in front of the potential streaker, who says out loud as Tiger draws back his putter:"Please don't make this putt ..." Tiger misreads it, and we groan in disappointment. The drunk guy takes another sip and stumbles away, adding, "You guys are soooo lucky." 6:29 p.m. -- After another par at the eighth, Tiger has a 5-foot putt on the ninth hole for a final birdie and a closing nine of 30. It would be his lowest nine holes in a U.S. Open and only a stroke off the nine-hole U.S. Open record of 29. Stevie has his bib off again, finally free from that burdensome piece of weightless fabric. He circles the putt with Tiger, making sure his boss doesn't miss something obvious, and then steps away as Tiger approaches his ball. He makes it. Five under on his second nine and 2 under for the tournament, just one shot off the lead. Tiger waits next to the green, then shakes hands with Mickelson and Scott, both of whom look like they've seen a ghost. If we can't beat Tiger this week, when can we? Before Tiger started his run, Mickelson and Scott were within a stroke of him. With 36 holes to go, they'll be teeing off three hours before he does. When not tracking Tiger, Bob Smiley is a TV writer, runs the golf blog Fore Right and is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's golf coverage. He can be reached at email@example.com.