Webb Simpson of the USA won the US Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco by a single shot from his countryman Michael Thompson and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell.
Simpson began the final day in a tie for eighth, four shots behind McDowell and Jim Furyk. But in testing, cool and misty conditions, the 26-year-old climbed the leaderboard with four birdies between the 6th and 10th holes. Having shot 68 on Saturday to put himself back in contention, Simpson closed with eight straight pars to post another 68 and a clubhouse total of one-over-par.
At that stage, Jim Furyk looked the man most likely to match that number. The 2003 US Open winner was one-over after 15 holes, with the par 5s, 16 and 17 to come.
But a snap-hook from the 16th tee led to a bogey six for Furyk and, when he was unable to secure a birdie on the 17th, he was left needing a birdie on the closing hole to match Simpson.
McDowell looked to have played himself out of contention with four bogeys on the front nine. But back-to-back birdies on the 11th and 12th put him back in the mix. Two more bogeys though on the 13th and 14th made his task difficult. He holed a valiant putt for birdie on the 17th to get back to two-over-par and that left him, like Furyk, needing a birdie on the last to tie.
Both men found the right hand semi-rough from the tee on the 18th, leaving tricky shots into the front left pin position. McDowell made a good job of his approach but could get no closer than 25 feet past the pin.
Furyk pulled his approach and found a near impossible spot in the left hand greenside bunker. He had to go for the shot but he couldn't pull it off and his third shot ended in the front bunker.
The American's chance was gone and all that stood between Webb Simpson and his first Major title was McDowell's testing downhill putt. The 2010 US Open Champion surveyed the putt from all angles but couldn't find the bottom of the cup, he tapped in for a four and Simpson was the champion. He's the ninth consecutive first-time winner in the Majors.
"I couldn't be happier right now," he said. "It was nerve-wracking. I know what kind of players Graeme and Jim are and, even though Graeme had a tough 25 footer down the hill, I expected it to hit the hole or at least have a good chance.
McDowell was left to rue just three fairways hit. He came up one shy of keeping the Northern Irish run going in the US Open. He won in 2010 and Rory McIlroy took the title last year.
"There's a mixture of emotions inside me right now," said McDowell. "Obviously disappointment, deflation, pride - but mostly just frustration, because I hit three fairways today. It's the US Open, and you can't afford to do that. That was really the key today for me. I just seemed to hit it in the semi-rough all day long. But I'm proud of the way I hung in there. The way I birdied 11 and 12 and the putt I made on 17 gave myself half a chance on 18, but unfortunately it wasn't to be."
England's Lee Westwood finished on five-over-par in a tie for 10th. Things might have turned out quite differently had his ball not been lost up a tree on the fifth.
"It took the wind out of my sails," he said. "It was one of those frustrating rounds, but we live to fight another day."
It was also a disappointing day for Tiger Woods, he took himself out of the running on the front nine with four bogeys and a double. In the end he fought well to post a 73 and end tied for 21st.
First round leader Michael Thompson of the USA finished with an excellent 67 to end the week tied for second with McDowell.
US Open The Olympic Club, San Francisco, California 14-17 June, purse $8,000,000, par 70
1 Webb Simpson (USA) 72 73 68 68 281 $1,440,000 T2 Michael Thompson (USA) 66 75 74 67 282 $695,916 T2 Graeme McDowell (NIR) 69 72 68 73 282 $695,916 T4 David Toms (USA) 69 70 76 68 283 $276,841 T4 Padraig Harrington (Ire) 74 70 71 68 283 $276,841 T4 John Peterson (USA) 71 70 72 70 283 $276,841 T4 Jason Dufner (USA) 72 71 70 70 283 $276,841 T4 Jim Furyk (USA) 70 69 70 74 283 $276,841 9 Ernie Els (RSA) 75 69 68 72 284 $200,280 T10 Casey Wittenberg (USA) 71 77 67 70 285 $163,594 T10 Retief Goosen (RSA) 75 70 69 71 285 $163,594 T10 John Senden (Aus) 72 73 68 72 285 $163,594 T10 Kevin Chappell (USA) 74 71 68 72 285 $163,594 T10 Lee Westwood (Eng) 73 72 67 73 285 $163,594
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage Where next? European Tour - Darren Fichardt wins Saint Omer Open
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