Webb Simpson Wins U.S. Open at The Olympic Club
Updated: Tue 6/19/2012 2:49 pm
Perhaps the 112th United States Open at The Olympic Club kept to tradition where a less heralded player emerged to capture the trophy from a more accomplished golfer. Fleck stole Hogan's, Casper got Palmer's, Scott Simpson kept Watson away and Janzen delayed Stewart one year - all at The Olympic Club.
The two players with a chance to match Webb Simpson's 1-over total on their 72nd hole were Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell. Both players had won this championship before, while Simpson, watching from the locker room was clinging on to hopes of capturing his first. It all happened so fast, on a day that seemed to take forever.
Simpson emerged from the pack after making bogeys early in his round at 2 and 5. His birdie on the difficult par 4, 6th hole, was the first of three in a row and 4 out of the next five holes. It was this stretch that ultimately seperated Simpson from the rest of his competitors when reviewing the contenders final rounds. After making 8 consecutive pars to finish with his second consecutive round of 2-under par, 68, Simpson could only sit and wait to learn if his performance was enough to win his first major title.
As Simpson was signing his scorecard, the final pairing was completing their 15th hole. At the time, Furyk stood +1 for the championship and McDowell was +4. Neither player had made a birdie in their final round and both players were struggling to position their tee ball in the narrow Olympic Club fairways.
Similar to a previous playing of the United States Amateur at The Olympic Club, the USGA opted to move the teeing area up approximately 100 yards for the final round. In pushing the teeing area up, players were faced with the need to work the ball much more dramatically from right to left. This surprisingly caught the veteran Jim Furyk off guard. The result was an indifferent swing and a snap hook which left Furyk out of position to reach the green even with this 3rd shot. The steady player who hadn't made a birdie all day, was now faced with needing to make birdie on the relatively short par 5, 17th or par 4, 18th to tie Simpson who was in the clubhouse at +1.
Furyk wasn't able to convert his birdie attempt at 17, however McDowell did keep hope alive with a birdie and like Furyk was now one shot back with one hole to play. Both players found the right intermediate cut with their tee shots. McDowell's approach found the green about 20 feet above the hole. Furyk pulled his second shot into the greenside bunker, all but ensuring he would carry on The Olympic Club tradition of the more heralded player not walking away with the trophy. Unless of course, McDowell, a U.S. Open Champion only two years earlier could make his putt and defeat Simpson on Monday.
McDowell's putt never got on the correct line, leaving Webb Simpson as the 2nd major champion to sport a belly putter. Keegan Bradley being the first in his victory at last year's PGA Championship.
So now the question is - will Webb Simpson be among the many 1-time major champions who never validated their place in golf history with another major title, or will he emerge as a leader in American golf and win another major title? It's been 15 different major champions in the last 15 major tournaments. Two 1-time major champions came close this week at The Olympic Club in McDowell and Furyk, but both still find themselves among the group seeking true validation as one of the game's greatest players.