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Woods, from the tees

india Updated: Jun 18, 2008 20:23 IST

If the ability to hit a golf ball past invisible horizons is the stuff of legends, Tiger Woods is a mythological hero. He seems to have proved this yet again in the US Open, where he played sublime golf to defeat nagging injury and one of the toughest opponents he has ever faced — Rocco Mediate — to win his third US Open title on Monday. It would have been one of golf’s greatest upsets had Mediate, who teed off on the last holding with a one-stroke lead, not scored a bogie to force the sudden death play-off.

That this also happens to be Woods’s 14th major championship shows why he is arguably the best player in the world to have ever graced the greens. The way Woods is playing flawless golf, it is just a matter of time before he catches up with Jack Nicklaus’s world record of wins in 18 majors. Like other great players before him, Woods’s mastery owes to the flawless technical aspects of his game.

But perhaps what sets him apart from them is his mental toughness. It is almost as if Woods feels no pressure at all. Curiously, such mental toughness may also have helped Indian golfers notch up their string of successes on the European tour this year. Jeev Milkha Singh’s one-stroke win at the Bank Austria Open last week — after an incredible 18 consecutive pars — bears this out. It is, indeed, birdie time.