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One hole, two players, two putts

Lee Westwood reacts after missing a putt at No. 18 for a share of the lead. Tiger Woods then made his tying putt.

Associated Press

Lee Westwood reacts after missing a putt at No. 18 for a share of the lead. Tiger Woods then made his tying putt.

SAN DIEGO — It came down to birdie putts at No. 18 on Sunday.

When Rocco Mediate parred the final hole to remain at 1 under, it was up to Lee Westwood or Tiger Woods to birdie it and force a playoff today.

Westwood missed a 15-footer.

Woods made a 12-footer.

"I knew (Woods) would make that putt," Mediate said. "That's what he does. I made him do something amazing, which is amazing. He does it all the time.But I made him do that."

After their tee shots, it appeared neither Woods nor Westwood would get a chance to "do that." Both hit into bunkers on the 527-yard hole and had to lay up onto the green.

Westwood's putt rolled off right of the cup, missing by inches.

Woods' putt bumped along toward the hole and swirled into the back corner of the cup without an inch to spare.

"I just kept telling myself, 2½ balls outside the right but make sure you stay committed to it, make a pure stroke," Woods said. "If it plinkos in or plinkos out, it doesn't matter as long as I make a pure stroke. And I did. It took forever to break, but it finally snuck in there at the end."

It was reminiscent of the 2000 PGA Championship, when Woods made a 6-foot birdie putt that broke both ways to force a playoff against Bob May that he won.

"It feels very similar to what Valhalla felt like," Woods said. "If I didn't make that putt, I don't get to continue to keep playing. At best, I gave myself a chance to win the tournament (today). And that's all I can ask for."

So shaken was he by his close call, Westwood, trying to become the first Englishman in 38 years to win the U.S. Open, didn't know if he was going to watch today's round.

"It's sickening not to be in the playoff," he said. "But all in all, I played pretty good all week. And if somebody said you're going to have a chance from 20 feet for a playoff on Monday, then I would have probably taken that at the start of the week.

"So while I'm disappointed, I'm pleased with myself. And I think that I've proved to myself and a few others that I think there is a major championship in me."

That Westwood hung with Woods shouldn't be a surprise. He's the only player to beat Woods when Woods has led by more than one shot entering the final round of a tournament. At the 2000 Deutsche Bank-SAP Open, he started two back of Woods before finishing four up.

Eight years later, Westwood tried to cap a comeback in which he has gone from fourth in the world to the 200s and back to No. 20. He had relied less on teachers and more on tenacity.

"Because at the end of the day, sitting in the middle of the 18th fairway with a 5-wood," Westwood said, "there's no coach telling you what to do."

Sunday, he also tapped into his experience in five Ryder Cups, which prepared him for the partisan crowd he had expected. Yet he didn't find the pro-Woods gallery as menacing as he feared.

"The crowds were great. You got a few people shouting odd comments, but that is the absolute minority," Westwood said. "I got cheered on all day. I was quite surprised, really. There were a lot of 'Come on, Lee.' So no complaints."

Only regrets on his final putt.

One hole, two players, two putts 06/15/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 11:57am]

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