Tiger Woods walked tenderly out of Torrey Pines with a U.S. Open trophy he was destined to win on a left leg worse than anyone imagined. A group of children called out to him and Woods looked over and waved.
It turned out to be a most symbolic gesture.
So long, Tiger.
See you next year.
Woods revealed Wednesday he has been playing for at least 10 months with a torn ligament in his left knee, and that he suffered a double stress fracture in his left leg two weeks before the U.S. Open. He said he will have season-ending surgery, knocking him out of the final two majors and the Ryder Cup.
"I know much was made of my knee throughout the last week, and it was important to me that I disclose my condition publicly at an appropriate time. I wanted to be very respectful of the USGA and their incredibly hard work, and make sure the focus was on the U.S. Open," Woods said on his Web site. "Now, it is clear that the right thing to do is to listen to my doctors, follow through with this surgery, and focus my attention on rehabilitating my knee."
He sure wasn't listening to doctors by playing the U.S. Open, a victory that now looks even more impressive.
Out of competition for two months because of April 15 surgery to clean out cartilage in his left knee, he suffered a double stress fracture in his left tibia two weeks before the U.S. Open.
Hank Haney, his swing coach, was with him in Florida when doctors told Woods the preferred treatment was three weeks on crutches, followed by three weeks of rest.
According to Haney, Woods looked at the doctor and said: "I'm playing the U.S. Open, and I'm going to win."
"And then he started putting on his shoes," Haney recalled. "He looked at me and said, 'Come on, Hank. We'll just putt today.' Every night, I kept thinking there was no chance he's going to play. He had to stop in his tracks for 30 seconds walking from the dining room table to the refrigerator.
"He was not going to miss the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. There just wasn't any discussion."
And it was a U.S. Open that will be talked about for years.
Despite a torn anterior cruciate ligament and the double stress fracture, Woods managed to win a major that required five days of flinching, grimacing and a long list of spectacular shots that have defined his career.
He went 91 holes on a leg that got worse each day, finally defeating Rocco Mediate on the 19th hole of a playoff.
"When I talk about golf, he doesn't count," Mediate said Monday after the playoff. "He's not normal."
Woods, 32, did not say when he would have surgery, but he canceled a clinic that was scheduled for Tuesday at Comerica Park in Detroit. Haney said the typical recovery is six to eight months. This will be Woods' third surgery in five years on his left knee.
For Tiger to play 91 holes and walk each one (22 miles total) on that knee and still play at such a high level was absolutley fucking crazy. Tiger puts a ton of torque on his left knee for every long shot and he played 18 holes for 5 days straight. Unbelievable.