Webb Simpson stuns stars to claim US Open
By Allan Kelly ,AFP
June 19, 2012, 12:31 am TWN
SAN FRANCISCO -- Webb Simpson of the United States came from four shots back to win the U.S. Open at San Francisco's Olympic Club on Sunday, overtaking a bunch of big names to win his first major title.
The 26-year-old from North Carolina, in just his second U.S. Open, battled back from two early bogeys to grab four birdies in five holes from the sixth and then parred his way down the rest of the back nine for a gripping win.
Simpson closed with a 68 and a one-over total of 281, one stroke clear of countryman Michael Thompson (67) and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell (73).
A further stroke back in a five-way tie for fourth place were Americans Jim Furyk (74) David Toms (68), Jason Dufner (70) and John Peterson (70) along with Ireland's Padraig Harrington (68).
Simpson was the ninth straight first time winner in the majors and he was the 15th different winner in the last 15, underlining once again the current strength-in-depth of world golf.
“If I was honest with you I believed in myself I could win a major, but maybe not so soon,” he said.
“This is my fourth or fifth (major tournament). And I just gained all the respect for the guys who have won multiple majors, because it's so hard to do. The level of pressure is so much greater than a regular event.
“For me to play Sunday fourth from the last group was probably a huge help as opposed to the last group.”
It was day when birdies were rare and survival was the order of the day as a cold mist and spotty rain drifted in from the adjacent Pacific Ocean to compound the difficulties of the exacting Lake Course layout.
Former winners Furyk and McDowell started the day holding the joint lead — the only men to be under par at one-under 209.
First blood went to Furyk as he took the solo lead after McDowell bogeyed the third and when the Ulsterman had a second bogey at the fifth, the Ryder Cup stalwart had a two-stroke lead.
He missed a 10-footer at the eighth that would have nudged him three strokes ahead and then, in his rear-view mirror, he saw a trio of young American countrymen — Simpson, Thompson and Peterson — making a charge at him.
First round leader Thompson set the early clubhouse standard with a 67 for a two-over total of 282 and sat back to watch if anyone could match him.