Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Woods Hoping to Break Drought at Soggy Merion; U.S. Open Course Has Little History with Current Field

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Woods Hoping to Break Drought at Soggy Merion; U.S. Open Course Has Little History with Current Field

Article excerpt

ARDMORE, Pa. * The photo of Ben Hogan hitting his 1-iron into the 18th green at Merion in the 1950 U.S. Open is among the most famous in golf history, capturing the pure swing of one of the greatest players when the pressure of a major championship was at its peak.

Instead of marveling at the swing, Tiger Woods thought of the results.

"That was to get into a playoff," Woods said Tuesday, sounding more like a golf historian than the No. 1 player in the game. "Got about 40 feet and still had some work to do. It's a great photo. But it would have been an all right photo if he didn't win. He still had to go out and win it the next day."

Hogan managed to lag the long putt to about 4 feet and quickly knocked that in for his par to join a three-way playoff, which he won the next day over Lloyd Mangrum and Tom Fazio. Of his four U.S. Open titles, it meant the most to Hogan because he proved he could win just 16 months after a horrific car accident that nearly killed him. On battered legs, Hogan had to play the 36-hole final, followed by the 18-hole playoff.

"Knowing the fact that he went through the accident and then came out here and played 36 and 18, that's awfully impressive," Woods said.

In some small way, Woods can relate.

Five years ago, Woods tried to play the U.S. Open with the ligaments shredded in his left knee and a double stress fracture in his lower left leg. The USGA published a book called 'Great Moments of the U.S. Open," and the photo it selected for the cover showed Woods arching his back and pumping his fists after making a 12-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines to get into a playoff.

It wouldn't have been much of a photo if he missed.

Woods had to go 91 holes that week. He had to make another birdie on the 18th hole of the playoff to go extra holes before finally beating Rocco Mediate.

Hard as it might have been to believe that day, it also was the last major Woods won. Five years later, he hopes to crack the code again at Merion. …

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