2008 US Open: Tiger Woods Wins a Thriller

How Woods bested Mediate in playoff, plus the tournament's final scores

Tiger Woods celebrates after sinking his birdie putt on the 18th hole to force a playoff with Rocco Mediate during the 2008 U.S. Open Golf Championship
Tiger Woods celebrates the birdie putt on the 72nd hole that forced the playoff at the 2008 US Open. Paul Mounce/Corbis via Getty Images

It wasn't a surprise when Tiger Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open. The tournament was played at Torrey Pines, a golf course Woods had already won on six times entering this Open. And, well, he was Tiger Woods: owner of, at the start of the championship, 13 major titles.

But how Woods won it - overcoming injuries that soon after ended his season, beating journeyman Rocco Mediate in a scintillating head-to-head battle - was surprising. And, in retrospect, it's also surprising that this may have been Woods' final win in a major championship.

Quick Bits

  • Winner: Tiger Woods, 283 (final scores below)
  • Dates: June 12-16, 2008
  • Golf course: Torrey Pines Golf Course (South Course) in La Jolla, Calif.
  • U.S. Open number: This was the 108th time the U.S. Open was played.

Woods' Injury Issues

Woods had arthroscopic knee surgery several months before the 2008 U.S. Open and missed an earlier part of the PGA Tour season. This tournament was his return to play. So Woods' injury issues were known entering the tournament, although it was thought he'd overcome them.

At Torrey Pines this week, Woods was in obvious pain on many shots, grimacing as a result of those knee problems. Some of his fellow-competitors even speculated that Woods was making too much of a show of such pain - that, perhaps, he was exaggerating for effect.

He wasn't. Just nine days after this tournament ended, Woods underwent reconstructive surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. It was also revealed that Woods played the 2008 U.S. Open with stress fractures in his left leg.

The Early Rounds of the 2008 US Open

The U.S. Open often produces early surprises, and the leaders following the first round - Justin Hicks and Kevin Streelman, with 68s - fall into the category. Mediate was among those tied for third at 69.

Woods opened with a 72, but a second-round 68 moved him into a tie for second place. Mediate was also tied for second, one behind Stuart Appleby.

Appleby fell away with a 79 in the third round. And Woods went into the lead at 3-under 210 following a round of 70. One behind was Lee Westwood, with Mediate in third place at 212.

The Final Round: Woods, Mediate and Westwood

The fourth round got off to a poor start for Woods: he double-bogeyed (the third time he did that on No. 1 during the tournament). Then he bogeyed the second hole, so after two holes Woods went from leader to chaser. Through four holes, Mediate led at 2-under, followed by Westwood at 1-under and Woods at even-par.

After nine holes, Westwood was at 2-under, Woods at 1-under and Mediate at even-par. The three continued jockeying for position over the back nine, Mediate birdying Nos. 10 and 14 and bogeying 15; Westwood making bogey on holes 10, 12 and 13 before birdying 14; Woods birdying No. 11, then bogeying Nos. 13 and 15.

Mediate carded the best fourth-round score of the three with a 71. Playing one group ahead of Woods and Westwood, Mediate got into the clubhouse at 1-under 283.

As Woods and Westwood teed off No. 18, they each trailed Mediate by one stroke. And both Woods and Westwood had birdie putts on 72nd hole to tie Mediate. Westwood's 15-footer didn't fall.

Then Woods lined up his 12-footer and knocked it into the hole for birdie (eliciting the reaction in the photo above). That birdie tied Woods with Mediate at 1-under 283, requiring an 18-hole Monday playoff.

Woods vs. Mediate in the 2008 US Open Playoff

The playoff was a David-and-Goliath affair: Mediate, 45 years old, years of injury problems, five career PGA Tour wins, no majors. Woods, 32 years old, 64 career PGA Tour wins, 13 majors.

In the middle of the 18-hole playoff, it appeared that Woods might do what everyone expected: run away from Mediate. Tiger led by three after 10 holes. But Mediate reeled Woods back in, evening the score after the 14th, and then taking a 1-stroke lead on the 15th. On the 18th tee, Woods again found himself trailing Mediate by one.

But once again, Woods birdied the 18th hole, which, coupled with Mediate's par, left them tied again. So it was on to a sudden-death playoff. Woods and Mediate started on the No. 7 hole, and that's where Mediate finally cracked, scoring a bogey.

Woods parred the hole to win the championship.

For Tiger, the 2008 U.S. Open was his third victory in this championship and his 14th overall major championship victory. In the years since, Woods has not yet won another major.

2008 U.S. Open Golf Tournament Scores

Results from the 2008 U.S. Open golf tournament played on the par-71 South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Calif. (x-won playoff; a-amateur):

x-Tiger Woods 72-68-70-73--283 $1,350,000
Rocco Mediate 72-68-70-73--283 $810,000
Lee Westwood 70-71-70-73--284 $491,995
Robert Karlsson 70-70-75-71--286 $307,303
D.J. Trahan 72-69-73-72--286 $307,303
Carl Pettersson 71-71-77-68--287 $220,686
John Merrick 73-72-71-71--287 $220,686
Miguel Angel Jimenez 75-66-74-72--287 $220,686
Heath Slocum 75-74-74-65--288 $160,769
Eric Axley 69-79-71-69--288 $160,769
Brandt Snedeker 76-73-68-71--288 $160,769
Camilo Villegas 73-71-71-73--288 $160,769
Geoff Ogilvy 69-73-72-74--288 $160,769
Stewart Cink 72-73-77-67--289 $122,159
Retief Goosen 76-69-77-67--289 $122,159
Rod Pampling 74-70-75-70--289 $122,159
Ernie Els 70-72-74-73--289 $122,159
Phil Mickelson 71-75-76-68--290 $87,230
Chad Campbell 77-72-71-70--290 $87,230
Ryuji Imada 74-75-70-71--290 $87,230
Brandt Jobe 73-75-69-73--290 $87,230
Sergio Garcia 76-70-70-74--290 $87,230
Mike Weir 73-74-69-74--290 $87,230
Robert Allenby 70-72-73-75--290 $87,230
Hunter Mahan 72-74-69-75--290 $87,230
Adam Scott 73-73-75-70--291 $61,252
Boo Weekley 73-76-70-72--291 $61,252
Anthony Kim 74-75-70-72--291 $61,252
Bart Bryant 75-70-78-69--292 $48,482
a-Michael Thompson 74-73-73-72--292
Steve Stricker 73-76-71-72--292 $48,482
Patrick Sheehan 71-74-74-73--292 $48,482
Jeff Quinney 79-70-70-73--292 $48,482
Scott Verplank 72-72-74-74--292 $48,482
Aaron Baddeley 74-73-71-74--292 $48,482
Pat Perez 75-73-75-70--293 $35,709
Daniel Chopra 73-75-75-70--293 $35,709
Padraig Harrington 78-67-77-71--293 $35,709
Jonathan Mills 72-75-75-71--293 $35,709
Justin Leonard 75-72-75-71--293 $35,709
Andres Romero 71-73-77-72--293 $35,709
Todd Hamilton 74-74-73-72--293 $35,709
Joe Ogilvie 71-76-73-73--293 $35,709
Robert Dinwiddie 73-71-75-74--293 $35,709
Stuart Appleby 69-70-79-75--293 $35,709
Jim Furyk 74-71-73-75--293 $35,709
Oliver Wilson 72-71-74-76--293 $35,709
Jarrod Lyle 75-74-74-71--294 $23,985
John Rollins 75-68-79-72--294 $23,985
Matt Kuchar 73-73-76-72--294 $23,985
Dustin Johnson 74-72-75-73--294 $23,985
Tim Clark 73-72-74-75--294 $23,985
Ben Crane 75-72-77-71--295 $20,251
Soren Hansen 78-70-76-71--295 $20,251
Kevin Streelman 68-77-78-72--295 $20,251
Martin Kaymer 75-70-73-77--295 $20,251
Davis Love III 72-69-76-78--295 $20,251
Stephen Ames 74-74-77-71--296 $20,251
Rory Sabbatini 73-72-75-76--296 $20,251
Nick Watney 73-75-77-72--297 $17,691
a-Rickie Fowler 70-79-76-72--297
Alastair Forsyth 76-73-74-74--297 $17,691
Brett Quigley 73-72-77-75--297 $17,691
David Toms 76-72-72-77--297 $17,691
John Mallinger 73-75-78-72--298 $16,514
Vijay Singh 71-78-76-73--298 $16,514
Paul Casey 79-70-76-73--298 $16,514
Trevor Immelman 75-73-72-78--298 $16,514
a-Derek Fathauer 73-73-78-75--299
D.A. Points 74-71-77-77--299 $15,778
Andrew Dresser 76-73-79-72--300 $15,189
Andrew Svoboda 77-71-74-78--300 $15,189
Woody Austin 72-72-77-79--300 $15,189
Jesper Parnevik 77-72-77-75--301 $14,306
Ian Leggatt 72-76-76-77--301 $14,306
Justin Hicks 68-80-75-78--301 $14,306
Ross Mcgowan 76-72-78-77--303 $13,718
Rich Beem 74-74-80-76--304 $13,276
Chris Kirk 75-74-78-77--304 $13,276

Comings and Goings at the 2008 US Open

  • This was the first U.S. Open played by Martin Kaymer, winner of the 2010 PGA Championship and 2014 U.S. Open. Kaymer tied for 53rd place.
  • Rickie Fowler, playing as an amateur, made his U.S. Open debut and finished in a tie for 60th.
  • Mark O'Meara, winner of the 1998 Masters and 1998 British Open, missed the cut in his final U.S. Open appearance.