Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Here's a report I got from a reliable witness Monday afternoon at Pittsburgh International Airport (Ok, it was me -- I didn't change my originally scheduled Monday flight and wasn't in San Diego for the playoff):
"I just got off my plane at about 3:45 and noticed a strange gathering of people in the terminal near the shopping area. About 40 people were standing around, it was pretty curious. When I got close enough, I found out why. The PGA Tour Shop, a store that sells golf gear, had two big-screen TVs showing the U.S. Open playoff between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate, who's from Greensburg, which makes him a Pittsburgher. I've never seen a crowd gather to watch golf before. Naturally, I stopped to watch, too.
"Rocco made a short putt for par on the 17th green and went to the 18th hole one stroke ahead of Tiger. As I stood there, a woman walked up and asked how the playoff stood. When she heard the score, she said, incredulously, 'Rocco's winning? Wow!'
"As they played the 18th, more curious passengers joined the gathering. I edged in closer to the TV and sat down on the floor to get a better view. There was an excited buzz when Woods ran his eagle putt well past the cup, and complete quiet when Mediate rolled his birdie putt for the victory. The silence erupted in groans when Mediate's try, like Tiger's, missed and went beyond the gimmie zone. 'Geezus, Rock,' said a man in a suit and tie sitting on his suitcase next to me.
"There were more groans went Woods made his birdie putt. As Mediate faced his short putt to extend the playoff, a guy on my other side said, 'Boy, this would be a terrible way to lose.' Rocco made the putt, there were cheers mixed with exclamations of relief and a couple of 'Rocco!' shouts.
"The playoff was going to sudden death and the crowd dispersed. People had other flights to catch or luggage to collect. I stood up and left for baggage claim. Had I known it would be a two-hour wait for luggage--a passing thunderstorm with lightning prevented any planes from being unloaded--I would've stayed and watched the finish."

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