Webb Simpson came from four-shots behind to win the 112th U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco, California by one shot over Graeme McDowell and Michael Thompson. The 26-year old Simpson, the former Arnold Palmer scholarship winner at Wake Forest, did what his mentor couldn’t do at Olympic Club. Jim Furyk, the co-54 hole leader with Graeme McDowell, bogeyed two of the last three holes to finish amongst a group of five players tied for fourth place. Simpson claimed his first-career major by firing 68-68 on the weekend to post one-over-par 281. He started the day with bogeys on hole two and five before rattling off four birdies in five holes. Simpson didn't make another bogey on the day as he played each side one-under-par on Sunday. McDowell, who got off to an awful start, finished at two-over-par 282. Thompson posted the low-round of the tournament on Thursday with his four-under-par 66. Thompson closed out Sunday with 67, the second-lowest round of the tournament to finish T2 with McDowell. Simpson becomes the 15th different player to win the last 15 majors. Tiger Woods remains the only player under the age of 40 with multiple-major victories on TOUR.
Webb Simpson becomes the first American to win the U.S. Open since Lucas Glover in 2009 and becomes the second-consecutive Yank to win a major (Bubba Watson, the Masters). In 2011, Simpson broke onto the scene making the cut in 23 of 26 events he played. He went on to win two of those events and finished second three times. He was part of the winning President’s Cup team and looked ready to have a huge 2012. Now, he has! Leading up to this event Simpson had been the source of fantasy frustration for season-long owners and week-to-week players as he hasn’t been able to find the consistency that he had last season. Simpson’s best finish of 2012 came in his season-opener, HTOC at Kapalua when he finished T3. Simpson only had played two events since his fourth-place finish at his home course, Quail Hollow, and he missed the cut in both of them (THE PLAYERS, the Memorial). He was hardly the form player heading into this week but his excellent iron play and top-notch putting paved the way to victory this week.
The next question for Simpson will face is how winning his first major will affect his life. His wife is seven months pregnant with their second child so he is in for some life-changing events and at age 26, we’ll get to see just how he handles those changes. Simpson is a man of faith and he will lean on that faith during the coming months as he will be pulled in six different directions. Will he take the Bubba Watson route and stay home with the family? Will he continue to play golf at a high level? Will his first major championship wear him out after the publicity tour? As we saw with Bubba Watson, life now changes and I will be keeping a close eye on how young Simpson handles his new duties as U.S. Open champion.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
The last 16 of 25 players in stroke play events who led after 54 holes on Tour have lost the lead in the final round as Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell (counted as one player even know there are two of them) couldn’t put away their second-career U.S. Open title.
The Red, White and Blue have now won 12 of the last 13 FedExCup events dating back to Luke Donald’s win at TC. Carl Pettersson is the other “non-U.S.” (he was recently made a citizen) winner as he captured the RBC Heritage. The U.S.A. players now have won both majors of the 2012 season (Watson, the Masters).
With this victory, Webb Simspon earns $1,440,000 and 600 FedExCup points. This is Simpson’s third-career victory on TOUR.
Young Guns versus Old Guns
In 25 tournaments in 2012 the “Young” versus “Old” has seen the “Middle” was pulling away. In the last two weeks, the youth of the TOUR have evened the score with Dustin Johnson winning last week and now 26-year old Webb Simpson winning his first major this week. The “Middle” guys lead versus “Young” guys has now been squared at 12-12 while the “Old” folks trail with just two wins.
For the “Young”, in order of victory on the calendar, Johnson Wagner (31), Brandt Snedeker (31), Kyle Stanley (24), Bill Haas (29), John Huh (21), Hunter Mahan (29 at the time of his TWO wins), Rory McIlroy (now 23), Justin Rose (31), Rickie Fowler (23), Dustin Johnson (27) and now Webb Simpson (26) have caught up with their middle-aged counterparts.
The “Middle” has victories from Mark Wilson (37), George McNeill (36), Luke Donald (34), Tiger Woods (36) TWICE, Bubba Watson (33), Carl Pettersson (34), Ben Curtis (34), Matt Kuchar (33), Jason Dufner (35) TWICE and Zach Johnson (36) have the season-long lead.
The “Old” guys that have hoisted the trophy are Steve Stricker (44) and Phil Mickelson (41). Jim Furyk and Ernie Els gave the “old timers” a real chance this week but fell just short.
Graeme McDowell: GMAC was looking for his second U.S. Open championship in three years as he started the day tied with Jim Furyk in the final pairing. His front nine of 38 knocked him back as his normally steady driver was wayward and he struggled to get up and down around the greens. McDowell came into this week having made six-straight cuts in the U.S. Open. Make it seven. He has to be an automatic choice for your roster in 2013. McDowell now has finished in the top 12 in both majors in 2012.
Michael Thompson: The 2007 U.S. Amateur runner-up to Colt Knost, Thompson had quite a week again at Olympic Club. He had the low round of the week after opening with a four-under-par 66 on Thursday. He made more birdies in that round, seven, than Phil Mickelson made all week (five). If you had Thompson on your roster this week, bravo! He’s made the cut in 10 of 15 events in 2012 and his best finish before today was T6 at Sony in his opening tournament of the year. Thompson is fifth on TOUR in strokes gained-putting and that helped him tremendously this week.
Jim Furyk: The man who had held part of the lead or all of the lead since Friday afternoon couldn’t hold it together coming down the stretch. Furyk missed his final five fairways and his bogey on the par-five 16th hole left him one shot behind Simpson with two to play. He couldn’t tie or retake the lead but still had a fantastic week at Olympic Club. Even though Furyk is 42 he should be on your list in this event for the next year or so as he’s made the cut in 16 of 18 events, including six finishes in the top five. Furyk has now been in the top 26 in his last nine events on TOUR and was in the top 11 in the first two majors.
Padraig Harrington: Harrington has quietly put together a decent 2012 on TOUR but the one thing that is missing is a victory. He backed up his T8 at the Masters with another top 10 this week. Coming into the U.S. Open he finished T15 (HP) and T13 (FESJC) his last two times out so his form carried over this week. Do you think he’s ready for the Open Championship? I do and he should be near the top of favorites at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.
David Toms: Toms wasn’t on most people’s radars this week as he came to Olympic Club after consecutive MC on TOUR at CPIC and FESJC in his last two events. Toms had also missed two of his last three cuts at U.S. Open events. But, Toms’ steady game of fairways hit and GIR was evidenced this week as he finished in the top 20 in both categories. Toms bunker mastery was on display as he saved par 11 of 14 times in the sand this week to lead the tournament.
John Peterson: The former NCAA champion from LSU doesn’t have status on any tour so obviously he wasn’t in your fantasy roster this week. I’ll have to ask Rob Bolton and Ryan Ballengee during their chat on Wednesday on what Peterson’s status will be moving forward. The U.S. Open is worth watching just for stories like this.
Jason Dufner: His stellar play continued this week with another top-five finish in 2012 this week. You can throw history out the window when ranking Dufner moving forward. Sure, he’s been on TOUR for a few years but he hasn’t been playing anywhere near those levels in 2012. In Dufner’s last five events he’s won at Zurich, T68 (THE PLAYERS), won (HP), second (CPIC) and T4 this week. The only tournament he didn't play well was the first one back from his honeymoon!
Ernie Els: The “Big Easy” was looking to join the “three-timers” club but it wasn’t to be this week. The 2004 and 2007 champion came into this event playing excellent golf. His putter, which carried him the first three rounds, didn’t’ cooperate on Sunday but Els’ excellent 2012 marches on with his fourth top 10. Els is the quintessential U.S. Open player as he punishes GIR and hits plenty of fairways. His recent form leading into this week put me off as he MC (THE PLAYERS), T41 (HP) and was T58 (Memorial) but he was a sound investment this week.
Lee Westwood: His dream of winning the U.S. Open ended when he lost his ball in a Cypress tree off his tee shot on hole five. Two shot penalty. Re-tee. Imagine if this happened to Sergio Garcia? He would have blown a gasket. Westwood still managed to hit the top 10 with this bad luck. Westwood’s record in majors is fantastic and 2012 has shown to be no different as he was T3 at the Masters and T10 this week at the U.S. Open. The world’s No. 3 player will be on my list at The Open championship.
Retief Goosen: Back pain? Check. Zero top 10’s in 2012? Check. Last three events on TOUR, MC? Check. I guess I should have look passed all of that and remembered he was a two-time champion of this event. Or not. He would have been an excellent late-round pick in multiple-player drafts. Hope you had him!
John Senden: MC at the Masters, THE PLAYERS and the Memorial didn’t give me much to work with heading into the U.S. Open this week. Sure, Senden is a fairway hitting machine and is always in the top 10 GIR but in three previous trips he was MC, MC and T30.
Kevin Chappell: Two top 25’s in 17 events in 2012 so he wasn’t exactly on the radar this week. Chappell now has proven that he can play U.S. Open courses after hitting the top 10 for the second-consecutive year (T3 at Congressional last year). He had MC in three of his last four events before this week.
“Hey, whatever happened to…”
World-ranking in ( )
Luke Donald (1): The world No.1 player continued his disappointing form at the U.S. Open with 79-72 MC. Donald has never finished in the top 10 in nine starts and his best finish is T12 in 2006.
Rory McIlroy (2): It’s time to be concerned as McIlroy has now missed four of his last five cuts worldwide. Last week I thought that McIlroy had finally gotten over the hump but that doesn’t look to be the case. McIlroy is the first defending champion since Angel Cabrera in 2008 to MC after winning the previous year. There’s no question he’s a great talent but there are more questions than answers right now for the 23-year old.
Tiger Woods (4): Wow. The 2012-version of Tiger Woods keeps us guessing again. Leading after 36 holes, his name was all but engraved on the U.S. Open trophy. Somebody forgot to tell Olympic Club. Woods score of 75 in the third round was one of the eight-worst scores of the day on Saturday. On Sunday he began the front nine by firing five-over par to knock him out of any contention for major championship number 15. Two wins on courses he dominates led us to believe that he could transfer that form to the U.S. Open. Maybe we should just stick to the courses he has run over in his career for now.
Bubba Watson (5): In 17 rounds played at the U.S. Open, Watson has carded a round in the 60’s once. In an interview after the first round Watson remarked that his plan was to overpower the course. The course instead overpowered him as he fired 78-71 to MC. Watson has now MC in three of six career starts at the U.S. Open.
Dustin Johnson (10): Everyone knew he had no chance of winning this week after his victory last week in Memphis. Johnson had the 54-hole lead down the road at Pebble Beach in 2010 but couldn’t use that magic to make the cut this week at Olympic Club. Johnson made one birdie in 36 holes to miss the number by one shot after firing 75-74. This is Johnson’s first MC at the U.S. Open in five appearances.
Phil Mickelson (13): He made five birdies in 72 holes. He made 21 bogeys in 72 holes. If he was mentally fatigued at Memorial I can only imagine what he is feeling today as this is his second-worst finish in the majors.
Louis Oosthuizen (16): The 2010 Open champion and 2012 Masters Runner-up also MC this week in his third trip to the U.S. Open. He finished T9 in 2011 at Congressional. Oosthuizen only made one birdie as well this week and only hit eight of 28 fairways.
Bill Haas (23): For you loyal readers out there, this should not come as a surprise that Haas did not make the cut this week. Haas has now MC in four of his last six events on TOUR. He has one top 25 (T25 THE PLAYERS) in 10 events since his playoff victory over Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley at Riviera in February.
Peter Hanson (25): Hanson finished T18, T16 and T7 last year in his last three U.S. Open appearances. He finished T3 after being the 54-hole leader at this year’s Masters. Hanson was also T15 at THE PLAYERS. My point is I didn’t see this coming this week. Hanson was nine-over-par through 10 holes and couldn’t recover. The last time I tipped Hanson he finished T55 at Transitions. Sorry, Peter! I won’t do it again!
*Of the top 30 OWGR players in the world, 22 made the cut this week. Brandt Snedeker, ranked 26th, DNS due to a rib injury.