PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) - In a U.S. Open filled with golf's
biggest stars, it was Graeme McDowell who played like one.
McDowell seized control after a shocking collapse by Dustin
Johnson, then failed to get flustered with Tiger Woods, Phil
Mickelson and Ernie Els lined up behind him. The 30-year-old from
Northern Ireland wasn't perfect, but he was good enough.
He closed with a 3-over 74 to become the first European in 40
years to capture the U.S. Open, getting an embrace on the 18th
green from his father, who spoke for thousands who watched this
unlikely Open unfold along the Pacific coastline.
"You're something, kid," Kenny McDowell said.
It was a final round no one expected.
Johnson took a triple bogey on the second hole to lose all of
his three-shot lead, and a double bogey on the next hole ended his
hopes. Three of the biggest stars of this generation were right
there, ready to continue the lineage of great champions at Pebble
Beach, only to play far below their expectations.
McDowell made only one birdie - an 8-foot birdie putt on the
fifth hole - and his final round was the highest score by a U.S.
Open champion since Andy North in 1985.
No matter. It added up to a one-shot victory over another
surprise contender, Gregory Havret of France, who shot 72.
"I can't believe I'm standing with this right now," McDowell
said, posing with silver trophy. "It's a dream come true. I've
been dreaming it all my life. Two putts to win the U.S. Open. Can't
believe it happened."
Woods couldn't believe it, either.
Poised to end six months of bad publicity over a shattered
personal life, he bogeyed five of his first 10 holes and took
himself out of contention with a 75.
Els and Mickelson hung around a little longer, and both had
their chances, but neither hit the kind of shots that win the U.S.