I’m not much of a sports fan, except for golf. It’s probably because I still pretend to go out & play golf three or four times a year. Mostly I’m a fan, though. I never understand when people tell me they find golf boring. But then I find football & soccer boring. I used to be a boxing fan, but the sport’s corruption finally drove me away. Yesterday afternoon, I watched something like a boxing match on a golf course — the playoff in the US Open between Tiger Woods & Rocco Mediate. Everyone knows who Tiger Woods is, of course, but unless you follow golf you probably have not heard of Rocco Mediate. Mediate has been playing the tour for twenty years, as several wins, but also a bad back that has nearly driven him out of the game. He’s 45 years old and had fallen to 157th in the world rankings. You can read an account of the tournament at the link above, but it came down to Sunday afternoon — after four rounds of golf over four days on a very long & very difficult Torrey Pines course — to a tie between Woods & Mediate. Woods played all week with a painful knee, having returned to the game only tow months after arthroscopic surgery. Most golf tournaments that end in a tie go into a sudden death playoff in order to decide the outcome for the Sunday TV audience, but the US Open has stuck with the old-fashioned 18 hole Monday playoff. Which in this case ended in another tie between the two players. Woods won on the first sudden death playoff hole, but Mediate had the moral victory, I think. He played better than Woods over the course of the tournament, but Woods has a way of making luck work for him. Every lucky event has a long history of preparation invisible behind it. The narrative arrived at its inevitable end, with the young hero defeating the wily veteran. The gods love young men, though they make them pay. Woods may have washed out the rest of his season by coming back from injury too soon. In any case, most golf matches — most sporting events — are entertainment; but very occasionally sport rises to the level of transcendence. This year’s US Open rose to that level. Woods called it “probably my best tournament ever,” but by “best” he didn’t mean “most brilliant” or “most dominant.” He knew he didn’t play all that well by his standards. Woods meant “best” in the sense of most difficulty or most competitive or hardest. He meant he was barely able to win.