TULSA, Okla. - The 101st U.S. Open at Southern Hills Country Club will likely be remembered as the place where Tiger Woods saw his historic streak of four straight major championships end.
It also now will be recalled as the Open nobody else wanted to win - or could win.
At least until today, when former PGA champion Mark Brooks will meet Retief Goosen of South Africa in an 18-hole playoff that for a few moments last night seemed as unlikely as Woods losing here did before the tournament began.
In one of the most bizarre sequences in major championship history, Stewart Cink missed an 18-inch putt for bogey on the par-4 closing hole and Goosen then blew a 2-foot putt for par.
It allowed Brooks, who had earlier missed a 7-footer for par on the final hole, to sneak into a playoff at 4-under-par 276. Cink's disastrous double bogey caused him to finish one shot out of the playoff.
Goosen appeared ready to claim victory when his approach landed 12 feet from the cup and Cink's ball was buried in deep rough behind the green. Things looked even better for Goosen when Cink three-putted from 15 feet.
But after hitting his birdie attempt through the break and 2 feet past the cup, Goosen pushed his par putt to clinch victory to the right. It set up the first Open playoff since 1994.
"Obviously I'm not happy about what happened on 18," Goosen, 32, would say later. "But I'm not going to jump out of my hotel room tonight. That's golf, and those kinds of things happen."
Said Brooks, 40: "It was shocking to see that finish. I feel bad for him [Goosen], but I'm sure he'll be ready tomorrow. I figured I was done. I had unpacked my locker. I got all my stuff back in there now."
Cink, who had made a birdie on the par-4 17th to tie Goosen at 5-under, did not second-guess himself for the way he played the par-4 finishing hole. Or for missing the short putt that cost him a place in the playoff.
"It was really hard to concentrate on that putt because I didn't think it meant that much," said Cink, 28, who had started the day tied with Goosen at 5-under.
Cink smiled sadly.
"It's a funny thing. If I had made the second putt, I'm sure Retief would have two-putted for par. I'm not hanging my head a bit. I hung in there better than I thought I would, better than a lot of people thought I would."
The incredible finish followed a day when several players in contention - many of them with more gaudy credentials than either of the playoff participants - watched their scores soar and their chances for a first major title fade.
Sergio Garcia of Spain, who began the day one stroke behind the leaders, got off to a horrendous start with bogeys on two of the first five holes and wound up shooting a 7-over 77.
Phil Mickelson, who started two strokes behind, saved par from nearly 30 feet on the opening hole but made the first of six bogeys on the par-4 fourth hole. Another came when Mickelson three-putted from 4 feet on the par-4 13th hole.
"I don't know exactly what I learned today," said Mickelson, who finished with a 75. "I think it was a difficult day for me, in that I did not play the way I would have liked, obviously. I didn't have the same feeling as I did the first three rounds."
Rocco Mediate, who also started one behind and tied for the lead at 5-under for a brief time early in the round after sandwiching two birdies around his own blown 2-footer for bogey at the par-4 third hole, wound up two strokes back after a 2-over-par 72.
Mediate made what turned out to be the last birdie on the 18th hole, a hole that endured much criticism here this week, and proved to be the center of attention again.
First it was Brooks who missed his par putt after blowing a 40-footer well past the hole - his par putt hanging precariously on the lip. Then came the disasters for both Cink and Goosen.
Cink's troubles started when his 5-iron from 191 yards overshot the green and landed tangled in the thick Bermuda grass. He chipped to within 15 feet, and thought he had made the putt to save par.
The ball was headed for the cup before turning slightly to the left.
"I thought it was a pretty good putt," Cink said later. "I had spent a lot of energy on that putt and I was kind of shaky on the next one."
It showed, as Cink pushed his putt to the right. Goosen, whose putting had helped him build a two-shot lead earlier in the round, was 12 feet away from becoming the Open champion.
Since his putt was uphill, and the 18th green was slower than any other on the course, Goosen knew he had to strike the ball firmly. Goosen hit it too hard.
"I knew I had to get down and try to make the putt or two-putt," Goosen said. "I hit it right through the break. Seeing what happened to Stewart's third putt breaking so much to the right, I saw my putt coming back just off center right. I can't explain why it broke the way it did."