SAN DIEGO - Tiger Woods marveled just like the rest of us.
With the U.S. Open trophy in hand, he looked like he couldn't believe he really won it.
He sat in the interview room Monday looking at that trophy the way some long-shot sectional qualifier would look at it after stunning the world in an upset.
That's what made his triumph over Rocco Mediate in a playoff at the 108th U.S. Open so special.
Woods has amazed us so many times in so many ways, but he amazed himself here this week.
That's what stood out in the aftermath.
"It's probably the greatest tournament I ever had," Woods said.
That's because he overcame more in this event than he has ever overcome.
The route to that trophy presentation was longer, harder and more fraught with uncertainty than any of his other 14 major championship triumphs.
Four rounds wasn't enough. An 18-hole playoff wasn't enough. Woods won with a par on an extra hole in sudden death.
It was 91 holes of hell.
That's because Woods' surgically repaired left knee made it so much harder to win. He couldn't hide the pain. He winced, grimaced and doubled over after hitting shots this week. He did so again Monday
"He's not normal," Mediate said. "He's way above everything."
Woods, for the first time after winning a major, couldn't hide the fact that he may have been as baffled as the rest of us at the spectacular shots he pulled off this week.
"All things considered, I don't know how I ended up in this position," Woods said.
Woods sounded like so many of the foes he has vanquished. That's how you knew how meaningful this victory was to him. He rarely speaks about his accomplishments like that.
We marveled this week at how he won with four double bogeys, three of them to start his round.
We marveled at how he shot 30 on the back nine Friday to move into contention. We marveled at his pair of eagles on the back nine Saturday, when he charged from five shots back with six holes to play to take a one-shot lead into the final round. We marveled at the dramatic 12-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole Sunday to force the Monday playoff.
We learned Monday that he marveled, too.
"I had four doubles this week, three eagles, a few three putts, a couple snipes off tees, a couple slices, some bombs, anything and everything happened this week," Woods said. "Through all those ups and downs, I ended up being 1-under par for 91 holes. Just an amazing week."
He squandered a three-shot lead on the back nine.
When Mediate birdied the 15th hole with his third consecutive birdie, Woods found himself a shot back.
"I'm sure that I scared him," Mediate said.
Woods didn't really amaze us with his birdie at the 18th to catch Mediate. We saw him make that eagle there Saturday night to take control of the tournament. But maybe Woods was more awed than we were at his finish Monday because only he knows how much that knee really hurts.
Woods hinted that his doctors weren't happy he played this week.
"I'm not really good at listening to doctor's orders," he said.
Mediate pretty much summed it up.
"This guy is impossible," he said. "He is who he is, there's nothing else to say."
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