Tiger Woods, shown in last year's final round of the US PGA Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, inspired this week's US Open players at the oceanside course with an emotional 2008 US Open triumph there
SAN DIEGO - Memories of Tiger Woods winning the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines on a broken leg inspire major winners as they return for another US Open at the oceanside course.
At Torrey Pines 13 years ago, Woods sank a clutch 12-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Rocco Mediate, then battled level through a 18-hole Monday showdown before winning his 14th career major with a par on the first sudden-death playoff hole.
"It was pretty impressive. It was exciting to watch," four-time major winner Brooks Koepka said. "That's got to be up there for him. Definitely one of the top ones."
Woods had played with a broken leg, doctors discovered later, and he skipped the remainder of the year. He battled injuries for years after and wouldn't win another major until the 2019 Masters.
Woods is not playing this week after suffering severe leg injuries in a February car crash. He's recuperating at home in Florida with no timetable for a return.
Yet the memories of his Torrey Pines triumph left an indelible mark on several golfers inspired by him.
"The putt on 18 was very memorable," defending US Open champion Bryson Dechambeau said Tuesday. "Making that putt knowing he had to make it, and there was nothing more to it. You just had to make it, and he was able to do it."
The shot still astounds DeChambeau, whose trademark long drives have delivered their share of dropped jaws.
"I'd say the amount of times that human being has willed golf balls into a hole, it goes beyond conscious comprehension," DeChambeau said. "It's beyond miraculous what he can do with the golf ball and what he can do for the game of golf in general.
"I wish he was here, but I think that we're all keeping him in good spirits and pumping him up when we can. His memory, my thought of him out here, will keep pushing me forward to play my best."
'Inspiration for all'
Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth found the achievement of playing Torrey Pines with a broken leg amazing even before taking the spectacular shots Woods made into account.
"Something you shouldn't be playing golf on, then he went and won the US Open on it, which if you're having to hack out of this rough, and it's one of the tougher walks as well, that's something else," Spieth said.
"The up and down on the 72nd hole from the rough, obviously one of the most memorable putts in major championship history. I remember where I was watching it, and it was just so exciting.
"He was an inspiration for all of us younger generation out here to go out and practice a putt like that the whole next week to try to pretend it was to tie or win a US Open."
World number two Justin Thomas was shocked Woods won, but after seeing a replay last week he noted clutch par saves Woods made that set the stage for his dramatic 18th-hole putt.
"I still don't know how he won. He had no business winning that tournament," Thomas said. "Rocco played better than he did. He just hit some key drives when he needed to or just little things here and there, but just kept making those putts. That's what you do to win US Opens.
"I just didn't remember the amount of four- and five-footers he made that really seemed to be irrelevant... that was something that stuck out to me."