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Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Updated: July 9, 9:58 AM ET
U.S. Open live blog

By Jason Sobel
ESPN.com

Throughout this week, ESPN.com golf writer Jason Sobel will be live blogging from the U.S. Open, bringing you inside information and analysis from Torrey Pines. Refresh this page often to keep track of all the entries during each round. (All times are Pacific time.)

Have a question or comment for Sobel? E-mail him at usopenblog@gmail.com.

Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
Round 4

1:49 p.m.: Before I go, just wanted to thank everyone who participated -- or tried to participate -- in the Live Blog. In 41 hours of live coverage for five straight days, I received close to 5,000 e-mails from readers -- double the number I received during the Live Blog at this year's Masters.

Thanks to everyone. I've got to go catch a plane. And find a few more superlatives to describe Tiger Woods!

1:45 p.m.: Last e-mail of the week, from Gregg in Austin, Texas:

If Tiger can come back from knee surgery, I can return from popped-out eyeballs and arthritic fingers, right?

OK, I get the hint. I'm leaving, I'm leaving …

1:41 p.m.: One last thought on Mediate, from Paul in Parts Unknown:

And thanks to Rocco for giving us so much drama during the round. Down three to Tiger Woods, most players would curl up in the fetal position and wait for him to go in for the kill, but Mediate kept battling. Terrific effort -- and it might be rewarded in a berth on the Ryder cup team, if he can keep up his solid play.

1:37 p.m.: That's 14 major championships for Tiger Woods and it looks more inevitable than ever that he will break Jack Nicklaus' all-time record. I asked Jack about this recently, and he said, "I suspect that he probably will, but you never break a record until you break it. I suspect in the next four or five years, that it will probably happen, but who knows what's going to happen in the next four or five years? Certainly at the rate he's going and the way he plays, he should do it. He's awfully good."

1:35 p.m.: Tiger is holding daughter Sam on the final green. Tries to give her back to Elin, but Sam reaches back for daddy. Cute moment.

1:34 p.m.: E-mail from Rob in Parts Unknown:

I need to sit down and think about that last comment for a little while. Not saying it wasn't great -- it absolutely was -- but I need to think about where it ranks amongst those of the past few decades.

1:30 p.m.: Rocco on Tiger: "He's sooooo hard to beat."

Mediate joins the ranks of Bob May and Chris DiMarco, each of whom also performed valiantly against Woods in playoffs, but came up short.

1:29 p.m.: Woods hugs Steve Williams, then gives a big bearhug to Mediate. What a fun day of golf. Maybe I'm starting to change my mind on the whole 18-hole playoff thing. If the USGA can promise us this sort of drama, count me in.

1:28 p.m.: It's rolling toward the hole … it's got to break … and it … doesn't. Rocco just barely misses on the high side and Tiger Woods is the newest U.S. Open champion!

1:27 p.m.: And now Rocco needs to make this to take this sudden death to a second extra hole. From 20 feet …

1:26 p.m.: Tiger for the win … ooooh, so close! Another long putt stays agonizingly short of the hole -- story of the day for Woods. He taps in for par.

1:24 p.m.: From the drop zone, Rocco hits a good shot, but it scoots past the hole and carries about 20 feet beyond it and to the right. If Tiger can cozy one up there, Rocco will need to make to keep going.

1:23 p.m.: Rocco draws big cheers from the crowd after pretending to chuck his ball toward the green. Funny.

1:22 p.m.: Instead of dropping two club lengths from the bleachers, there is a drop zone some 10 yards away that Mediate will get to drop his ball in. Great break.

1:20 p.m.: Tiger's second shot is to the front of the green, some 20-25 feet below the hole. Advantage still goes to Woods, but by not sticking one tight, he left the door open for Mediate to scramble his way to a par, possibly keeping this going for another extra hole.

1:18 p.m.: Rocco out of the bunker … way left … off the cart path … off the bleachers. Might get a drop from there, but it's not in good shape -- especially considering Tiger is 166 yards out, right in the fairway.

1:16 p.m.: Rocco pulls his drive into the left bunker and gets an awful lie, right up against the lip. Ouch.

1:15 p.m.: Rip City for Tiger. That thing sounded like a cannon going off. Stays in the fairway, just inside the right edge.

1:09 p.m.: Here's what each player has done at No. 7 each day:

Tiger Woods:
• Thursday: Par
• Friday: Par
• Saturday: Birdie
• Sunday: Par
• Monday: Birdie

Rocco Mediate:
• Thursday: Bogey
• Friday: Par
• Saturday: Par
• Sunday: Par
• Monday: Par

1:06 p.m.: Rocco holes it! Handshakes all around as we're going to the 91st hole of the week …

1:05 p.m.: C'mon, did you really think he'd miss? Woods makes a short putt for birdie.

We're either going to sudden death or Tiger Woods is the U.S. Open champion and Rocco Mediate is the goat …

1:04 p.m.: Tiger will putt first …

1:03 p.m.: Rocco for the win … and he misses on the left side, hits it a few feet past the hole.

A couple of knee-knockers here. If they both make, we continue to the seventh hole …

1:02 p.m.: Well, he didn't leave it short. Woods pushes it to the right and knocks the eagle attempt about 3 feet past the hole. Has that left for birdie.

1:01 p.m.: Tiger will be first to putt. Stevie is tending the stick for him …

12:58 p.m.: Rocco with a very nice third shot to about 20 feet left of the hole. Each player will have an uphill run at it from there. If they both make, we have a playoff. If they both two-putt, we also have a playoff. If one makes and the other doesn't, this thing is over. Easy as that.

12:57 p.m.: Well, he hit it high and took it over the water, but it didn't cut too much. Woods is on the green in two, but has about 30-40 feet for eagle.

12:56 p.m.: He's got 217 yards to the stick …

12:55 p.m.: It's not a 5-wood, but a long iron for Tiger …

12:53 p.m.: Rocco knocks his second shot down the fairway. Easy enough.

12:52 p.m.: Another prediction from Harry: "Here comes a big 5-wood cut shot from Tiger. Right over the water. His favorite shot."

This one I agree with. Woods is going to hit it about a mile high and let it funnel into that back-right hole location.

12:50 p.m.: Tiger splits the fairway. He's going to be able to have a go at the green, while Rocco has no chance. Could we really see an eagle to win this thing?

12:49 p.m.: Just like yesterday, Rocco hits his tee shot well left into the bunker.

12:48 p.m.: We've talked all week about how cool it is to have a par-5 18th hole on a U.S. Open venue, and this could provide some great drama today, just like yesterday. Pin is back right, meaning the guys can have a go at it without worrying about Devlin's Billabong.

12:46 p.m.: Tiger has the line on another long one … but leaves it short once again. Rocco follows with a tap-in of his own.

A pair of pars and we're heading to the final hole with Rocco Mediate leading by one in his upset bid over Tiger Woods. The heart has gotta be racing now -- for both players -- and maybe some butterflies in the stomach, too.

12:44 p.m.: Rocco has been simply spot-on with his long putts on the back nine. He hits the birdie putt about two feet past the hole, should be an easy par from there.

12:41 p.m.: Harry wants credit for a close call. Instead, he's just wrong.

Mediate barely carries the left bunker but gets his ball onto the front left side of the green. Will have a putt of some 40 feet or so for birdie.

12:40 p.m.: Tiger hitting his second shot first for one of the few times today, knocks it to 25 feet above the hole.

12:35 p.m.: From my buddy Harry Emanuel of the Sportinglife.com: "It's a tough back-right pin position today. Rocco is going to choke here. Front right bunker."

Uh-oh. Worried for Rocco. Harry is a man who knows things.

12:34 p.m.: Rocco hits his tee shot on 17 into the first cut on the right side. Tiger takes 3-wood, swings and twirls it -- which means you don't even have to look to see where the ball went. (Fairway. Dead center.)

12:30 p.m.: If Rocco's roll was good, Tiger's was great … but it still didn't go in. Woods leaves it about one ball rotation short of the hole on 16, as the players exchange pars and move to the 17th tee with Rocco Mediate your leader by one over Tiger Woods.

Don't go anywhere. This is getting really good.

12:29 p.m.: Rocco putting from off the green … whoa, that's a hell of a stroke. Almost holed it. Should be a kick-in par.

12:25 p.m.: Rocco's tee shot on the par-3 16th falls short of the green. Tiger puts his on the front. (Wonder if there's more wind up there than it seems.)

For what it's worth, Mediate has won all three par-3 holes so far today.

12:22 p.m.: Despite Mediate's current lead, Garrett in Parts Unknown sees it going the other way:

You had me at "mediocre taco."

12:18 p.m.: After watching Mediate's putt break on the same line, Woods' birdie attempt stays dead straight and doesn't fall. Tiger makes par, but Rocco is now even-par for the day and leads by one stroke with three to go. Wow.

12:17 p.m.: Now we're seeing some great match-play golf! Mediate drains his right-to-left bending birdie putt! Tiger needs to make just to remain all square …

12:14 p.m.: Unreal shot by Tiger from the bunker. Swings as hard as possible, lands on the green and swings down back toward the hole, stopping about 10 feet from the cup. Awesome.

12:13 p.m.: Rocco hits his second shot on 15 to within 25 feet. Here comes Tiger from another bunker …

12:09 p.m.: E-mail from Ron in Mexico:

Good point. Here's our aggregate playoff. Of course, couldn't we have just done this yesterday?

12:07 p.m.: If there's ever such a thing as a routine birdie, that's what Mediate made on 14. Meanwhile, Tiger power-lips out his birdie putt and we're all square with four to play. I said early that this wouldn't be a runaway for either player and it looks like it's going to come right down to the bitter end.

12:01 p.m.: ESPNEWS interview. Back in a few …

11:59 a.m.: E-mail from Thomas in Parts Unknown (as someone e-mailed earlier, is nobody working today in Parts Unknown?):

Uh-oh. I think you just gave the USGA another idea.

Kidding, kidding. Yes, sudden death playoff, using holes 7, 8 and 18 in rotation.

11:57 a.m.: On the short par-4 14th hole (playing 269 yards today), both players are just short of the green, with Rocco in the fairway and Tiger in the rough. Someone's making birdie here, maybe both of 'em. (Again.)

11:56 a.m.: I'll admit it: I only read that quickly and thought it was something about Charles Howell III playing like a robot.

11:55 a.m.: E-mail from my buddy Greg. I'm not sure it makes any sense, but I told him I'd post something he wrote and, well, believe it or not, this is the best one he came up with:

Um … OK then.

11:53 a.m.: They both clean up their birdies and we continue, as Woods holds a one-stroke lead with five holes to play. Locked up in a tight one!

11:52 a.m.: After a nice bunker shot from Rocco to within 5 feet, Tiger hits his eagle putt on a perfect line, but leaves it short.

I hate when I leave my eagle putts short.

11:48 a.m.: E-mail from Scott in Parts Unknown:

Not nearly as many who will say, "I was there when Tiger won the 1997 Masters." Or, "I was there when Tiger won the 2000 U.S. Open." Or even, "I was there when Tiger won the 2006 British Open."

A little preview into our ESPN.com editorial content budget: If Woods wins today, I'll be ranking his 14 major victories. Hint: This one won't be in the first two. Or the last two. Other than that, it's still up for grabs.

11:47 a.m.: Woods hits a long iron out of the rough. Lands it about pin-high, 30-35 feet away. That thing was an absolute rain-maker. Eagle opportunity coming up.

11:45 a.m.: Mediate hits a fairway wood into the front bunker. He's still smiling …

11:41 p.m.: Rocco down the left side of the fairway, Tiger into the left rough, but it's sitting up pretty nicely.

11:39 a.m.: I mentioned earlier that the forward tee boxes should aid Rocco more than Tiger, but that's debatable here on the par-5 13th hole. Using the forward tees, it's playing at 539 yards, which means Mediate can likely get there in two, just like Woods. Then again, Tiger will be hitting a much more lofted club into the hole, you would think, which certainly helps him.

11:37 a.m.: Tiger blows his par putt past the hole, cleans up for bogey. Rocco makes par to pick up another stroke. It's now a one-shot difference, with Tiger at 2-over and Rocco at 3-over through 12 holes. Interesting that a 74 or 75 could actually win this thing.

11:35 a.m.: Good e-mail from Dan in Parts Unknown:

Though they'll never hold the playoff as a skins match, some people think it should be match play. I think stroke play is fine, though a four-hole aggregate -- like the British and PGA -- would be more appropriate.

11:32 a.m.: Tiger's chip on 12 doesn't quite get to the hole, stays about 10 feet short. He'll have that for par.

11:28 a.m.: Here comes Rocco …

Mediate hits his second shot on 12 to within 10 feet, while Woods has another club-toss affair after not liking his shot from the fairway bunker. (It landed in the right rough.)

Speaking of which, all the boobirds were out last night to criticize Tiger for throwing his club after the second shot on 18. Gimme a break. Seriously. It's not like he threw it at anyone. He tossed it aside in disgust. Big deal. Is this really enough to get us so ticked off? And it doesn't matter that it's Tiger. It can be any guy on tour or, hell, even people you and I tee it up with at the local muni. If you toss your club in disgust after a poor shot, it doesn't equate to being a poor sportsman or having a lack of class. Let's get over ourselves here, folks.

11:22 a.m.: Rocco two-putts for par; Tiger chips out of the bunker and two-putts for bogey. Things get one stroke tighter, as Woods is now 1-over to Mediate's 3-over with seven holes to play.

11:20 a.m.: E-mail from Michael in SoCal:

If you factor in a very conservative estimate of five percent (though most caddies get 10 percent for a win and 7.5 for a top-10 -- and most of Tiger's results are wins or top-10s) and remember that Mike "Fluff" Cowan was Woods' caddie for his first few years as a pro, it's easy to estimate that Williams is somewhere around 200th on the all-time money list. Then again, for a guy who donated $1 million to charity last year, I'm guessing it could be a lot higher.

11:18 a.m.: I stand corrected by a bunch of e-mailers. That last putt of Woods' was just barely on the fringe. That's a zero-putt, meaning four putts in his last five holes. That's a decent putts per hole average.

11:16 a.m.: For the third time today, Tiger has found a greenside bunker on a par-3. It's like there's a magnet there or something. Rocco hits his to about 20 feet above the hole.

Advantage goes to Rocco here, but he hasn't helped himself much in previous situations like this. If he's going to drain a long putt at some point, now would be a perfect time.

11:12 a.m.: Tiger from the front fringe, has about 20 feet … bang! When Tiger is putting like this, he's almost unbeatable. If you're scoring at home, that's five straight one-putts for Woods.

Mediate makes bogey; he's now down three with eight to play.

11:10 a.m.: Rocco putting from off the green, leaves it about 8 feet short. He'll have that for par.

11:06 a.m.: E-mail from Michael in Dallas comes with the subject line "Really Good E-mail Question":

Not sure where the quesiton was in there, but wouldn't soap opera fans be into this sort of daytime drama, too? In fact, couldn't this be a soap opera? There's the star of the show who everyone knows and the guy who left the show, like, eight years ago and inexplicably came back from the dead to become a main character once again. This should be right up their alley.

11:02 a.m.: Seems like now is as good a time as any to mention that Rocco is an accomplished poker player and has competed in the World Series before. Guess this is basically a heads-up game. Down two at the turn, he'll have to go all-in at some point.

10:59 a.m.: After Rocco hits his about 3 feet past the hole, Tiger makes his par. Then Rocco misses the shorty for par. Ouch. He had Tiger the entire hole, but couldn't capitalize. That one hurts.

10:55 a.m.: Rocco knocks one right over the stick with his third shot on 9, rolls about 20 feet past. Tiger goes bunker to bunker with his third, but then hits his fourth to about 4 feet, which he'll have for par.

10:51 a.m.: The good news for Tiger: There was no visual evidence of pain on his second shot, using a 3-wood from the fairway. The bad news: He faded it well short into a bunker.

10:48 a.m.: Been getting a lot of e-mails stating something to the effect of: Tiger is only using his knee as an excuse. When he hits a good shot, the knee is fine, but when he hits a bad one, he winces as if it wasn't his fault, but that of his knee.

Uh, or you could look at it this way: When Tiger's knee hurts at impact, he doesn't hit the ball as well. There's no way he's using the injury as an excuse for anything -- either physically during the course of the round or verbally afterwards. It's just that when he doesn't tweak the knee at impact, he obviously hits it much better. Make sense?

10:46 a.m.: Both players find the fairway, but there's the first wince of the day from Woods. He tried to sit on one and the extra oomph looks like it tweaked the knee. It took nine holes, but now that he's shown it's hurting him, we'll have to watch whether this continues.

10:45 a.m.: If Woods is ever going to take advantage of his length, it should be on the par-5 ninth hole. He's made three birdies and a par so far, while Rocco has four pars.

10:43 a.m.: Par for Rocco and he's within one, at 1-over for the day.

10:40 a.m.: Impossible bunker shot for Tiger? Pretty much. He knocks it down to near where Rocco's tee shot was, then gets up and down from there for bogey -- his second 4 on a par-3 hole.

10:38 a.m.: Ever let the dishes pile up in the sink so much that you don't even know where to start in trying to clean 'em up? That's how I feel about the e-mails right now. Close to 1,000 in the past two hours. And yes, I just called you all dishes.

With that in mind, I'll get to this one from Steve in Parts Unknown:

Very similar to what it's been like the first four days. Sunny, 75, slight breeze.

Oh, and if you have a good e-mail, just let me know that it's a good one in the subject line. That should help me get to 'em quicker.

10:36 a.m.: And Rocco comes up well short on the 171-yard hole. There hasn't been much wind at No. 8 all week, so I'm surprised to see him miss by so much.

10:35 a.m.: Tiger finds the bunker for the second time on a par-3. Not a good shot.

10:31 a.m.: Huge momentum shift the last two holes. Tiger makes another birdie at 7, rolling in his putt, while Rocco follows with a par. It's a two-shot lead for Woods.

Is this thing about to get away from Mediate? He played holes 8 and 9 in even-par during the four regulation rounds. Woods played them in 4-under.

10:26 a.m.: Mediate to 20 feet, pin high. Woods knocks his to about 8 feet below the hole.

10:22 a.m.: Tiger pures his drive on 7. Rocco finds the first cut.

10:20 a.m.: Rocco slides in the knee-knocker to remain within one.

10:19 a.m.: Tiger drains the downhill birdie putt. He's up at least one -- it'll be two if Rocco misses …

10:17 a.m.: Terrible chip by Rocco … way left and short … wait, no, it's coming back a little … it's not that bad … and it's still coming … and some more … and it winds up a few feet from the hole. Wow, that was some great touch after what looked like a pretty awful chip.

10:14 a.m.: This e-mail from Tim in Parts Unknown actually made me laugh out loud:

Ha. Dude must feel like he was passed on the interstate while driving 90. On 18 yesterday, he hit his second shot into perfect position in the fairway, while Tiger was busy throwing his club after leaving a shot in the rough. Five minutes later, Westwood was going home and Tiger was doing that huge double-fist pump thing.

10:13 a.m.: Tiger drops one out of the sky, knocks it stiff to about 6 feet short of the hole.

10:12 a.m.: Rocco hits one through the green on 6. Long chip from the back rough, but lots of green to work with.

10:06 a.m.: E-mail from Erin in Indianapolis:

None at all, actually. He looks like a new man. Perhaps he really is part-robot and can just regenerate body parts like a salamander. (I'll admit it; I had to look that one up.)

Remember, though, in Saturday's third round, he wasn't grimacing, either, until about the 15th hole, so just because he looks OK now doesn't mean he'll be OK throughout the entire day.

10:03 a.m.: Rocco misses the par putt and makes bogey (see, I was right after all). Tiger makes par. We're all square once again.

9:59 a.m.: Great shot by Rocco funnels onto the front part of the green. He can still save par from there, let alone bogey. Shows how much I know.

9:56 a.m.: Here comes another big swing. Tiger has an 18-footer left for birdie, while Rocco hit the cart path … then hit it again … and eventually saw his ball stop rolling when it got to La Jolla. He's lefter than left. Gonna take something good just to save bogey here.

9:53 a.m.: E-mail from Paul in Chester Springs, Pa.:

Let's just say I can see my tee time out there somewhere. And after 36 hours of live blogging over the last four days, I had to pop my eyes back into my head and glue my fingers back on. But yeah, other than that? Happy to be here.

9:47 a.m.: Another pair of pars on the fourth hole. For what it's worth, we're playing at a pace of less than 12 minutes per hole. If it continues, this thing will be over in three hours and 36 minutes. (Then again, they haven't hit the par-5s yet, so my best guess is that it will be closer to four hours.)

A little quicker than the Tony Romo, Justin Timberlake, Matt Lauer, John Atkinson round that took … wait for it … six hours and 15 minutes! I think Angelo Spagnolo played TPC Sawgrass in less time.

9:43 a.m.: Usually, when players miss the cut after two rounds and aren't around on the weekend, they're not eligible for the Monday playoff. Guess that's not the case for live blogs of live blogs. Or live blogs of live blogs of live blogs, for that matter. Funny, but this is the exact same thing that happened during the Hogan/Fleck playoff in '55.

9:39 a.m.: First e-mail of the day, from Joe in Parts Unknown:

I think there's definitely a 68 out there, but have to guess that something right around par should be good enough. The USGA didn't give out an exact yardage of the course today, but I have to believe it's somewhere around 7,300 yards or so.

9:35 a.m.: And there's our first two-shot swing. Rocco cleans up for birdie. Tiger makes bogey and Mediate now leads by one. That was fast, huh?

9:31 a.m.: I received the following odds from Jimmy Shapiro at Bodog.com -- uh, for entertainment purposes only, right?

Odds to win the U.S. Open:
• Tiger Woods: -400
• Rocco Mediate: +250

Tiger Woods playoff score?
• 71 or Better: -120
• 72 or Worse: -120

Rocco Mediate's playoff score?
• 74 or Better: -150
• 75 or Worse: +110

What will Tiger Woods score at the first hole be?
• Birdie or better: 5/1
• Par: 2/3
• Bogey or Worse: 2/1

Who will get the first birdie or better?
• Tiger Woods: -200
• Rocco Mediate: +150

Who will get the first bogey or worse?
• Tiger Woods: EVEN
• Rocco Mediate: -140

Who will lead after nine holes?
• Tiger Woods: 1/2
• Rocco Mediate: 5/2
• Tie: 11/2

9:29 a.m.: Wow!

After Tiger finds the greenside bunker on 3 -- with a plugged lie, no less -- Rocco nearly holes out for an ace. Even so, this has the potential of being a two-shot swing, as Woods has a brutal second shot coming up.

9:27 a.m.: Interesting that Woods is in a playoff one year after missing a birdie putt on the final hole at Oakmont that would have forced one with Angel Cabrera. Had Tiger shot one stroke better last year, there's no telling what would have happened on Monday, as his wife, Elin, was giving birth to their daughter Sam that day.

Said Woods just a few weeks after that: "That didn't happen, so it would be all hypothetical. I'm not going down that road."

9:25 a.m.: Ho-hum. A pair of pars and Woods heads to the third hole still up by one.

9:21 a.m.: Rocco hits a nice chip from the thick stuff on No. 2. Tiger with a pedestrian chip to about 6 feet.

9:16 a.m.: Good time to discuss the course setup. Here's what I received from the USGA this morning …

Yardages and hole locations:

• Hole 3: 188 yards (back right tee)
• Hole 6: Tee markers moved forward 14 paces (501 yards to middle) due to challenging left "bowl" hole location.
• Hole 8: 171 yards
• Hole 11: 192 yards (back tee)
• Hole 12: 505 yards
• Hole 13: 539 yards (most forward of three teeing grounds used with hole location on back left shelf)
• Hole 14: 269 yards from tee markers to flagstick (same forward tee as round four. Hole location is front center).
• Hole 16: 225 yards (back right tee)
• Hole 18: 525 yards (to middle of green)

Advantage: Rocco. With all of the forward tees (especially 13 and 14), it should eliminate much of the discrepancy in driving distance.

A few more notes from the USGA: "If the players are tied after 18 holes, the playoff would be decided in sudden death using holes 7, 8 and 18 in rotation."

And I thought this was interesting: "Almost every aspect of the playoff setup was done prior to Thursday's first round. The only thing undecided was which teeing ground to use on hole 14. We waited to see how things went in Round 4."

I guess they liked how things went.

9:14 a.m.: Rocco misses his par putt; Tiger makes his. So much for that quick start for Mediate.

9:11 a.m.: Woods misses his 15-foot birdie putt on the high side. Mediate has a little left to make par after a nice bunker shot.

9:07 a.m.: My buddy Scott Van Pelt mentioned on the air yesterday that he'd have to recycle a suit, since he didn't plan for a playoff. Well, he's in good company.

As CNBC's Darren Rovell reports, yes, that is the same shirt that Tiger was wearing yesterday. What? You thought he'd wear green or something?

9:03 a.m.: Tiger hits the fairway! And raises his arms triumphantly.

Since I've covered a lot of golf in my time, I can tell you that raising your ams triumphantly is a much better reaction to hitting a shot than doubling over in pain. Through one shot, Woods looks OK so far.

9:02 a.m.: Rocco splits the fairway on No. 1. Tiger hasn't been close to the fairway on this hole in any of the four rounds so far.

9:00 a.m.: Welcome to a special Monday edition of the U.S. Open Playoff Live Blog! As someone who witnessed the last one of these -- Retief Goosen vs. Mark Brooks at Southern Hills in 2001 -- in person, let's just say I'm a little more fired up for today's matchup.

In this corner, we have a 13-time major champion, global icon and multi-trillionaire, a guy who makes birdies in his sleep … Tiger Woods!

And in this corner, we have a 45-year-old who hasn't won since 2002 and has to wear a sweater so his back doesn't tighten up … Rocco Mediate!

Honestly, I'm not sure we could have two more different players or personalities for this playoff. Tiger is a steely-eyed, focused picture of intimidation on the course. Rocco is chattier than those ladies on "The View." Tiger launches rockets off the tee box with his powerful swing. Rocco may not have a swing that would make Ben Hogan puke, but he wouldn't be happy about it, either. Tiger collects major trophies like a kid collects baseball cards. Rocco has never sniffed a top-three.

What does it all mean? Absolutely nothing. This isn't tennis, where the 158th-ranked player would barely stand a chance against Roger Federer. Anything can and often does happen in golf and while I did predict that Woods would win, I don't think it'll be a runaway by any means.

A handful of quick notes as they're about to tee off:

• The first four holes will be crucial. Through four rounds, Mediate played these holes in 5-under-par, while Woods was 4-over. If Rocco can get an early lead, he'll carry that momentum for a while.
• As ESPN's researchers have told me, if Mediate had won yesterday he would have become the oldest champion in Open history at 45 years, 180 days. Well, guess what? He's even older today -- 45 years, 181 days, in fact.
• I've been getting a lot of questions about the course setup, which is especially crucial considering there's a long hitter against a short hitter today. Well, I can tell you that the playoff setup was determined before the tournament started, so there was no favoritism played toward either player once the Monday match was determined. I have details on the setup and will share them throughout the round.
• Also getting plenty of questions on why this isn't in prime time. All about television, from what I hear. Can't say I blame 'em, either; four hours of Mediate vs. Lee Westwood during nighttime hours wouldn't have been must-see TV for most of the audience.
• The USGA didn't sell individual tickets for the playoff, but they were included in the weeklong package that was offered. Last night, I heard estimates that there would be more than 20,000 spectators on the scene today. Since they'll all be concentrated on the action at one hole, expect the gallery to be massive.
• This is worth noting, since we have one guy with a bad knee and another with a bad back: If a player has to withdraw from the playoff, I've been told by the USGA that he'll still receive second-place honors and a second-place paycheck.
• I stopped by the driving range about 45 minutes ago. Woods and Mediate weren't exactly at opposite ends of the range, but they were 50 yards about. Always a weird scene. Happens on Sunday at the Match Play every year, too.
• In case you couldn't tell, Tiger is the guy in a red shirt and black pants. Rocco is the other guy in a red shirt and black pants.

OK, that's all I have for now. If I divulge any more info, I'll have nothing left for the next few hours.

After four rounds, I hope you know the drill by now. Hit me at the above e-mail address throughout the day and keep clicking refresh as quickly as possible. I'll be here all day. And with that … Tiger, Rocco, you may now swing away …

Jason Sobel covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at usopenblog@gmail.com.