Golf got the Tiger-Phil-Sergio showdown it wanted in the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, but Woods wouldn’t be denied by anything, including the inclement weather in New York.
The 2002 U.S. Open: Tiger Woods, Bethpage, and a Grand Slam Quest
In the world of golf, certain championships stand out not just for their competitive excellence but also for their historical significance.
The 2002 United States Open Championship, often dubbed “The People’s Open,” was one such event that left an indelible mark on the sport.
Held at the iconic Black Course of Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, New York, this tournament unfolded from June 13 to 16, captivating fans and players alike.
Tiger Woods: Champion of Champions
The 102nd U.S. Open witnessed the golfing prowess of none other than Tiger Woods. With a final score of 277 (−3),
Woods secured his second U.S. Open victory and added an eighth major championship win to his illustrious career.
Notably, Woods was the sole golfer in the field to finish under par, demonstrating his exceptional skill and determination.
The victory not only showcased Tiger Woods’ dominance but also marked a significant milestone in his career.
With this win, he embarked on a quest to achieve the coveted Grand Slam—a feat accomplished by only a handful of golf legends.
A True Public Golf Course
What made the 2002 U.S. Open even more special was its venue. It was the first U.S. Open ever held on a true public golf course, earning it the moniker “The People’s Open.”
Bethpage Black Course, located on Long Island, east of New York City, provided a democratic platform for golf enthusiasts of all backgrounds to witness the best in the game.
The choice of a public course underscored the USGA’s commitment to making the U.S. Open accessible to all, a decision that resonated deeply with fans and players alike.
The Grand Slam Dream
For the first time in three decades, the winner of the Masters also claimed victory at the U.S. Open, setting the stage for a potential Grand Slam achievement.
Tiger Woods’ double triumph in 2002 drew comparisons to golfing legends of yesteryear.
The last golfer to achieve this feat was Jack Nicklaus in 1972, joining the ranks of Arnold Palmer (1960), Ben Hogan (1951, 1953), and Craig Wood (1941).
These victories fueled the excitement and anticipation in the golfing world, as fans eagerly awaited the remaining two majors of the year, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship, to see if Tiger Woods could etch his name in the annals of golf history.
Special Exemptions for Legends
In a nod to golfing history and the enduring legacy of certain legends, the USGA extended special exemptions to Nick Faldo and Hale Irwin, allowing them to compete in the 2002 U.S. Open.
These exemptions were a testament to the contributions these players had made to the sport and provided fans with a unique opportunity to witness their skills once more on a grand stage.