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Weekly Tour Wrap-Up
Posted by: Nick Bonfield on Tue 19 Jun 2012
The second major of the season is over and, as expected, it provided one of the most exciting four days in recent major history. There were endless sub-plots, numerous moments of sheer brilliance and a whole host of players – from world class golfers to little-know Nationwide Tour members – vying for one of the most coveted trophies on one of the most difficult courses in America.
Ultimately and perhaps surprisingly, one of the PGA Tour’s young stars prevailed in San Francisco at the US Open, shooting a remarkable 68-68 over the weekend at the Olympic Club’s brutal Lake Course; a quite remarkable achievement on a golf course that will go down in history as one of the hardest to ever host a professional tournament.
On the other side of the Atlantic at the Saint-Omer Open in France, Darren Fichardt returned from the proverbial wilderness to win for the first time in nine years on the European Tour and catapult himself to 79th in the Race to Dubai Standings.
Wonderful Webb triumphs at US Open
American Webb Simpson shot a fine closing round of 68 to take the US Open by one shot from Graeme McDowell and Michael Thompson at San Francisco’s treacherous Olympic Club, winning his first major championship at just the fourth time of asking.
It was another American, however, who led after the first round. Michael Thompson – the runner up at the 2007 US Amateur staged on the Lake Course – shot an opening four-under-par 66 to lead by three shots. He responded to three dropped shots in the first six holes with five birdies in eight holes from the 7th, adding another at the last.
Only six players were under par after the first round, all on one-under-par. Tiger Woods played a beautifully controlled opening round to get into red figures, alongside veteran David Toms, Britons Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell – who both birdied their last two holes – and Nick Watney, who sensationally holed his second at the par-5 17th to record only the third albatross in US Open history.
The second round was as eventful as the first, thanks largely to 17-year-old Beau Hossler. The high school amateur followed his highly impressive opening 70 with a second round 74, but led the tournament outright after a birdie at his tenth hole.
Earlier in the day, Furyk had played himself into a share of the lead after a second round 69, joining Toms and 14-time major champion Woods, who gave another lesson in control and course management.
McDowell and big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts were two shots further back with 36 holes to play, along with Nationwide Tour player John Peterson and round one leader Thompson.
There were also surprises at the other end of the field. 2011 Champion Rory McIlroy and much fancied Luke Donald missed the cut after a pair of woeful performances, along with FedEx St Jude champion Dustin Johnson.
With suggestions the course was becoming too difficult, the USGA made lower scoring possible in round three, and some big names capitalised.
Swede Fredrick Jacobson recorded a 68 for a one-over-par 54-hole total, and Lee Westwood shot a three-under-par 67 to reach two-over-par for the championship. He was joined by Ernie Els, who bounced back from three early bogeys, and Belgian Colsaerts.
A shot further back were John Senden, Kevin Chappell and Webb Simpson (68s), and Hossler, who surprised everyone by staying in contention with a third round 70.
It was a day to forget for Woods, however. The former world number one looked out of sorts as he crashed to a 75, four-over-par with one round to play.
They were all chasing Furyk, who shot a typically solid 70, and McDowell, who offset one bogey with three birdies for a 68.
The tournament was wide open heading into the final round, and it was Michael Thompson who the early move from the pack. The first round leader played the first six holes – which, cumulatively, the field played in more than 1,000 over par – in one under before adding another birdie at the 7th hole. Woods, meanwhile, played the same stretch in six-over-par to lose any hope of winning his fourth US Open.
Padraig Harrington also shot through the field on Sunday. After an inauspicious start, he birdied seven, eight and nine, and chipped in from off the green on the par-3 13th hole to reach two-over-par.
By this point, the leaders had played nine holes. Furyk looked solid, returning eight pars and a bogey, but playing partner McDowell found it tough, slumping to four over for his round and three over for the championship.
His fellow Briton Lee Westwood struggled to get anything going on Sunday, and had to accept a double bogey after his tee shot stayed up a tree on the par-4 5th hole. A tap-in eagle at the 17th would not be enough to end his major drought.
McDowell began his fight back with birdies at 11 and 12 to reach one-over-par, but faltered with bogeys on the next two holes. Furyk – yet to record a birdie – also bogeyed the par-3 13th to fall back to one-over-par.
At this point, Thompson had set the clubhouse lead on two-over-par after a final round 67, but Webb Simpson was threatening to go one better. He bogeyed two and five to fall back to five-over-par, but four birdies in his next five holes took him into a share of the lead.
He made a fantastic up and down on the last to set a new clubhouse lead on one-over-par, minutes after Harrigton had his hopes dashed on the same hole after his approach plugged in a greenside bunker.
On the course, Els – who birdied 12 to get to two-over-par – recorded a costly bogey at the 16th, and Peterson dropped two strokes on the same hole to fall back to four-over par.
Furyk also bogeyed 16 after a wild drive and, after McDowell bravely birdied 17, both players stood on the 18th tee knowing they needed a three to force a play-off. Furrk missed the green but McDowell found the putting surface some 24 feet from the hole. His birdie putt slid past the hole, however, handing Simpson the title.
Next week on the European Tour, Pablo Larrazabal defends the BMW International Open in Germany, while the PGA Tour heads to TPC River Highlands, where in-form Fredrik Jacobson defends the Travellers Championship.
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