Another major is in the books and another first-time winner is basking in the glory. While a list of former champions flamed out down the stretch, Webb Simpson emerged victorious at the 2012 U.S. Open.
Simpson finished with a score of 1-over par. He watched former U.S. Open winners Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell miss chances over the final few holes, proving that experience doesn't always win out. It was an exciting achievement for Simpson, but the real story of the U.S. Open was the course. Olympic Golf Club proved to be just as difficult as advertised. In the end, this tournament proved to be the test of will that makes the U.S. Open special.
After the first two rounds at Olympic, everyone was ready to anoint Tiger Woods as the winner. Woods held a share of the lead with David Toms and Jim Furyk and was playing very well. However, an ugly 75 in the third round put the pressure on the 14-time major winner. After playing the first six holes at 6-over par in the final round, Woods was buried. He was just one of the many former winners to bite the dust in the final round.
Furyk, McDowell, and Ernie Els were all in contention late in the tournament. However, all three blew chances down the stretch. Furyk lost his chance with a horrendous tee shot on the 16th hole. A bogey on the 18th officially ended his shot. McDowell was playing from behind after two straight bogeys on the 13th and 14th holes. Els had two late bogeys as well, denying him the chance for a third U.S. Open title. As it turned out, the two best performers in the final round were guys that never won a major. Simpson ended up holding off Michael Thompson for the one-shot victory.
Simpson deserves all of the credit in the world for winning this event. He was the only one that ended up surviving the breaks at Olympic. The final round was full of strange events. From Lee Westwood losing his shot in the trees to Furyk's inexplicable slice into the woods, the fortunes of most contenders changed with the blink of an eye. It wasn't that Simpson beat the golf course, it was that he merely avoided the traps that befell the rest of the field. In the U.S. Open, that is usually the way to win.* - Mark Paul is an avid golf fan. He has watched and played the game since high school.