Less than two years ago, Rocco Mediate nearly defeated Tigers Woods at the U.S. Open, and their epic duel at Torrey Pines will forever link the two.
Weighing in on Woods' stunning fall from grace, Mediate said Thursday that "all will be forgotten" if Woods dominates golf again once Tiger returns to the PGA Tour.
Woods has taken an indefinite leave of absence from golf to focus on his personal life. The world's No. 1 player has been a media and tabloid obsession since reports of his marital infidelities emerged in November.
"That's the life (Woods) chose to have," Mediate said. "He wanted to be the best. He is the best. That comes with a price. Back in the old days, that price wasn't as much because there was no Internet.
"Bottom line: It's sad for golf. I'm sad for him."
Woods has won 14 majors and is on pace to shatter the record of 18 held by Jack Nicklaus.
Mediate came close to denying Woods a major title in June 2008 after making the U.S. Open as a qualifier.
Woods needed to curl in a tricky birdie putt on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines Golf Course to tie Mediate. He then needed an extra hole the next day following an 18-hole playoff to finally beat Mediate, a prohibitive underdog.
That tournament is remembered as much for the way Mediate embraced the moment and stirred the masses as it is for Woods winning despite playing through several knee injuries.
"I'm looking forward to seeing him when he comes back out," Mediate said. "Everybody wants to see Tiger play. That's just how it is."
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