Monday at Torrey Pines is like the Ryder Cup, without the bad attitude. The fairways are lined with tens of thousands of fans (we can call them fans here, unlike at Augusta National). Even the 18th grandstand is full of folks hoping to see a dramatic finish, but certain to see the presentation ceremony.
Is anyone working in Southern California today?
Rocco Mediate's hands were shaking on the first tee as he nervously chewed a tee peg, rolling it around his mouth like a toothpick. "Okay, right, what do we do?" he asked a USGA official. There was no doubt who was the rookie.
There was just a nod and a handshake between Rocco and Tiger. Rocco nervously smiled, Tiger had his shark's eyes game-face on. The US Open trophy was sitting on a table, glistening in the sunshine. It held two pieces of paper with the numbers '1' and '2' written on them for the lottery to determine who would tee off first.
"I'll let the No.1 guy choose first," Rocco said. But Tiger put his arm around Rocco's shoulders and moved him forward, saying, "No, you choose." Rocco picked No.1 and put it in his bag presumably as a souvenir.
Both players got equal support when they were introduced onto the tee. Rocco nailed his drive. "Get in the hole!" yelled some wise guy who must have had beer for breakfast. Tiger hit the first fairway for the first time all week and raised his hands in ironic celebration. Rocco saw him do and walked up to Tiger, laughed and raised his hands, too, as if to say: 'Yeah, gee thanks; now you kill it!'
Everybody loves a winner and Tiger is getting plenty of support. But Rocco's Rowdies are out here in force, too. "Let's go Rocco!" they are yelling. "Go, baby, Roc!"
The MetLife blimp is hovering above this epic scene. The logo on the blimp reads 'For the if in life.'
If Tiger wins it will be the greatest ever victory by a guy playing on one leg ever. If Rocco wins, it's no big deal the guy wearing red always wins.