Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Webb Simpson wins the U.S. Open: never wrapped his mind around winning



Webb Simson this time won U.S.Open Sunday afternoon in the spookily foggy forest at the Olympic Club He was up against a pair of major champions. He was at The Olympic Club, where the wrong guy always wins a U.S. Open. Simpson should have known now how this would end.

Simpson could do this because, in another weird plot twist, he did not know he had finished first until 45 minutes after he'd finished playing. At the exact moment of his triumph, Simpson was sitting at a table in the club's basement locker room, waiting to see if his final score of 1 over par could be tied by one of the last two men on the course, Jim Furyk or Graeme McDowell.

He did his part with four birdies in a five-hole stretch around the turn, and a tough par from the collar of the 18th green for a 2-under 68. It was enough to capture his first major when Furyk bogeyed two of his last three holes, and McDowell couldn't recover from a bad start and too many tee shots in the rough. "Oh, wow," Simpson said when McDowell's 25-foot birdie putt to force a playoff stayed left of the cup Simpson emerged from a fog-filled final round as a U.S. Open champion, and he put two more names into the graveyard of champions.

"I never really wrapped my mind around winning," said Simpson, who finished at 1-over 281 to win in only his fifth time at a major. "This place is so demanding, and so all I was really concerned about was keeping the ball in front of me and making pars." Olympic is known as the "graveyard of champions" because proven major winners who were poised to win the U.S. Open -- Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Payne Stewart -- all lost out to the underdog. Perhaps it was only fitting that the 25-year-old Simpson went to Wake Forest on an Arnold Palmer scholarship.


"Arnold has been so good to me," Simpson said. "Just the other day, I read that story and thought about it. He's meant so much to me and Wake Forest. Hopefully, I can get a little back for him and make him smile." No one was beaming like Simpson, who followed a breakthrough year on the PGA Tour with his first major.

No one was more disgusted than Furyk, in control for so much of the final round until he snap-hooked his tee shot on the par-5 16th hole to fall out of the lead for the first time all day, and was unable to get it back. Needing a birdie on the final hole, he hit into the bunker. He crouched and clamped his teeth onto the shaft of his wedge. Furyk made bogey on the final hole and closed with a 74, a final round without a single birdie.


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