San Francisco, CA – For the fifth time, The Olympic Club produced a surprise U.S. Open champion.
Webb Simpson carded his second straight 2-under 68 on Sunday to come from behind and win the 112th U.S. Open Championship.
Simpson finished at 1-over-par 281 to win by one stroke over two players. He started the weekend tied for 29th, which means he came from farther back than any other champion since 1934.
Like the previous four winners at The Olympic Club, Simpson rallied after some early struggles. He bogeyed two of the first five holes to fall five strokes behind Jim Furyk.
However, Simpson rallied with four birdies in a five-hole span from the sixth to get back to 1-over par. From there, Simpson parred the final eight holes, then had to wait for the final groups to finish.
"I know what kind of players (Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell) are, both have won Majors. I expected both of them to do well coming in," Simpson said at the trophy presentation. "I thought even though Graeme had a 25-footer, it was probably going to hit the hole or have a good chance. I couldn't be happier right now. Congrats to Graeme and Michael (Thompson) for playing great golf."
McDowell birdied the 17th to get within one. He had 24 feet for birdie at the last, but missed left.
Furyk needed a birdie on either of the final two holes to force a playoff. The 2003 champion at Olympia Fields, pitched his third to about 22 feet on the 17th, but his birdie try stayed above ground.
At the last, his approach shot plugged in a greenside bunker. Furyk blasted into another bunker, and was finished as he went on to make bogey and end two back. Furyk failed to make a birdie in the final round.
McDowell closed with a 3-over 73 to tie Thompson in second at 2-over-par 282.
Thompson, who led after the first round, had the low score of the week with his opening 66. His final-round 67 matched the second-best score of the week.
Furyk, the third-round leader, bogeyed two of the last three holes to end two back at 3-over-par 283 after a final-round 74.
He was joined in fourth by 2001 PGA Champion David Toms (68), three-time major winner Padraig Harrington (68), Jason Dufner (70) and John Peterson (70).
Ernie Els, a two-time U.S. Open champion, eagled the seventh to get within two of Furyk. However, he carded four bogeys and a birdie the rest of the way for a 2-over 72. He took ninth at 4-over-par 284.
Three-time champion Tiger Woods went 6-over par in his first six holes Sunday and never recovered. He did collect three birdies the rest of the way to post 3-over 73 and end in a tie for 21st at 7-over-par 287.
"The first six, I just didn't play well at all," Woods admitted. "I just could never get anything going positively and I missed the ball in the wrong side a couple times and that's all it takes."
Phil Mickelson failed to make a birdie in his final round. He carded eight bogeys en route to an 8-over 78 that left him at 16-over-par 296.
Despite carding one bogey and eight pars on the front nine Sunday, Furyk made the turn with a one-stroke lead over Simpson.
The front nine is where Simpson did most of his scoring. He stumbled to bogeys at two and five to slide six strokes off the lead.
Simpson rolled in a six-footer for birdie on the sixth and made another birdie at the seventh to get back to even-par for his round. He made it three in a row with an 18-footer at No. 8.
The 26-year-old, who won twice on the PGA Tour last year, knocked in a three- footer for birdie on the 10th to get to 1-over par. As he closed with eight consecutive pars, it was all up to Furyk and McDowell.
"I knew it was a tough golf course. I had to go out and do as well as I could," said Simpson in a TV interview before Furyk and McDowell ended. "I probably prayed more the last three holes than I've ever done in my life. It helped me stay calm and get in with 2-under."
Furyk missed the green at the 13th. He chipped to about 13 feet and two-putted for bogey to slide into a share of the lead with Simpson. Furyk hit a quick hook off the 16th tee.
He pitched back to the fairway about where a good drive normally would have been. He took three more to reach the green as his fourth spun off the green. Furyk made bogey there to fall one back.
Furyk failed to birdie the final two holes and was unable win his second U.S. Open title.
"I don't know how to put that one into words, but I had my opportunities and my chances and it was right there. On that back nine, it was my tournament to win and I felt like if I went out there and shot even par, 1-under, I would have distanced myself from the field and I wasn't able to do so," Furyk stated. "And I played quite well, actually until the last three holes."
McDowell was 4-over par through 10 holes to slide to 3-over for the championship. He started to climb back into contention with a 9-foot birdie putt at the 11th.
The 2010 champion at Pebble Beach made it two in a row as he poured in a 25- footer for birdie at the 12th. That got him within one of Furyk. who bogeyed the 13th to slip to 1-over.
However, McDowell also made bogey there to remain one back. A bad drive on 14 led to another bogey, which put him two back. The Ulsterman got up and down for birdie from a bunker on 17, but couldn't birdie the last.
"Disappointment. Deflation. Pride. But mostly just frustration, you know, because I hit three fairways today," McDowell said about his feelings. "It's the U.S. Open, you're not supposed to do that. That was the key today for me. I just seemed to hit it in the semi-rough all day."
NOTES: Simpson earned $1.44 million for his third PGA Tour title...He earns a spot in the next 10 U.S. Opens, along with the next five Masters and British Opens...Simpson is the ninth straight first-time major champion...Those finishing in the top 10 and ties earned a spot in the field next year at Merion Golf Club...In five U.S. Opens at the Olympic Club, no 54-hole leader has hung on to win the title.