After the 18 hole play-off for the US Open, there was still nothing to separate Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate after both players shot 71 and the epic contest moved into sudden-death.
Woods looked to have one hand on the trophy when he moved three clear after ten holes at Torrey Pines, but Mediate fought back magnificently to first draw level and then edge ahead coming down the stretch. In the end, the World Number One rose to the challenge and birdie the last to keep the play-off alive past the 90 holes.
Earlier, Woods offset two birdies with two bogeys to reach the turn in level par 35 on the South Course while Mediate mixed three bogeys with a lone birdie in bright morning sunshine.
Woods, US Open Champion in 2000 and 2002, seized the early advantage when Mediate bogeyed the par four first after hitting his approach into the front greenside bunker and missing a five foot to save par.
Mediate hit back at the par three third, coming within a whisker of a hole-in-one with a magnificent six-iron that ended up just 18 inches from the hole.
He tapped in for birdie while Woods bogeyed after getting a plugged lie in the front bunker off the tee and failing to get up and down for par.
Trailing by a shot, Woods got back to level when Mediate bogeyed the par four fifth after driving into a fairway bunker and then edged one ahead with his first birdie of the day at the sixth where his approach ended up six feet from the flag.
Woods pulled two clear with a birdie on the seventh but dropped a shot on the next. The pendulum swung in Woods’ favour on the par five ninth however when he holed a crucial par putt only for Mediate to three putt for bogey to drop two behind at the turn.
When Mediate dropped another shot at the tenth the title looked to be inexorably heading towards Woods, by now three clear, but the contest was merely warming up.
With Woods dropping shots at the 11th and 12th, Mediate took heart, reeling off three successive birdies from the 13th to turn the play-off on its head. A curling 20 foot putt for a magical three on the 15th completed the hat-trick of birdies and for the first time, Mediate hit the front.
Momentum was with Mediate as the battle reached its gripping climax. Woods’ birdie putt on the 16th pulled up half a roll short and Mediate’s slender advantage remained intact. The 17th was halved in par and it all came down to the 18th.
Mediate pulled his drive into the fairway bunker, forcing a lay-up while Woods his two towering shots to the middle of the green. His eagle putt from 40 feet ran three feet past, leaving Mediate with a 15 footer to win the US Open. But his putt for a place in history slipped by and with Woods converting his birdie for a level par 71, there was still nothing to separate them and the contest moved into its 91st hole.