(June 17, 2012) - Webb Simpson was six strokes off the lead
going into the weekend at the U.S. Open. But the
26-year-old native of Raleigh, NC shot his second straight 68
on Sunday, posted a score of 1-over par, and watched from the
locker room as final round co-leaders Jim Furyk and Graeme
McDowell fell behind and were unable to force him into a
And just like that Simpson, who'd been virtually
invisible for the tournament's first 64 holes, had snuck
up on the golf world and won the U.S. Open at the Olympic
Club in San Francisco. The key: he made four birdies and no
bogeys in the last 13 holes while those playing behind him
stumbled and were unable to recover.
"I was thinking today [that] I had no idea how
Tiger's won 14 majors: they're so hard to win,"
Simpson said after recording his first major championship
victory at age 26. It was a statement Furyk and McDowell,
both one-time U.S. Open champions, could relate to.
Simpson made his final birdie of the day on the 10th hole and
made all pars coming in. His clutch up-and-down from
thick greenside rough on the 18th hole was his key to
Meanwhile, Furyk's undoing - along with the fact that he
made no birdies on Sunday - was a snap hooked 3-wood he hit
off the 16th tee. The tees on the par 5 dogleg left had
been moved up 101 yards for the final round, theoretically
giving the players a chance to make birdie or eagle coming
in. Furyk tried to hit a draw right-to-left around the
tree line but missed the shot badly to the left, had to pitch
back to the fairway, and made bogey. He needed to
birdie No. 18 to force a playoff but buried a short approach
shot in a greenside bunker and failed to get up and down.
Furyk didn't hit his ball in the fairway off the tee over
his final five holes.
McDowell made four bogeys on the difficult front nine and
turned in 4-over 38. He birdied 11 and 12 but bogeyed
12 and 14. His final birdie on the par 5 17th got him
to 2-over and gave him the hope of tying Simpson with a
birdie at 18. But his 20-foot putt from above the hole
never took the left-to-right break he'd anticipated.
Simpson, who says he'd have become a minister had
he not been a pro golfer, had his first major.
NOTES: University of Texas star Jordan Spieth shot 70-69 on
the weekend to finish at 7-over par and win low amateur
honors over 17-year-old Beau Hossler, who wound up at 9-over
after a final round 76, and Ben Hogan Award winner Patrick
Cantlay of UCLA, who finished at 11-over. Spieth tied
for 21st with second-round co-leader Tiger Woods, but shot
139 to Woods' 148 on the weekend. Spieth will play the
John Deere Classic on a sponsor exemption next
month...Michael Thompson shot 3-under 67 Sunday, low round of
the day, and finished T-2 with Graeme McDowell, one stroke
behind Simpson. Thompson, who is committed to play in
the John Deere Classic, also shot the low round of the
tournament, a 66 on Thursday...David Toms bounced back with a
68 on Sunday after shooting 76 on Saturday when he went to
the first tee as one of three co-leaders. Toms finished T-4
with Furyk, Padraig Harrington, John Peterson, and Jason
Dufner at 3-over par...2006 John Deere Classic champ John
Senden and Kevin Chappell finished T-10 after both shot final
rounds of 72. Both will be at the John Deere
Classic...Three more JDC players - defending champ Steve
Stricker, Fredrik Jacobson, and K.J. Choi finished T-15, with
Stricker and Choi both shooting final round 69s...The 2012
U.S. Open was the first time since 2007 at Oakmont that the
winning score was over par. Rory McIlroy won last year
at Congressional with a score of 16-under par, but missed the
cut this year.