Webb Simpson Wins U.S. Open at Olympic Club


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 playoff.

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 victory.  

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.

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