American Webb Simpson clinched his first major title with a nerve-jangling one-shot victory at the 112th U.S. Open on Sunday after overhauling overnight leaders Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell.
The 26-year-old Simpson, who triumphed twice on the PGA Tour last year, charged into contention with four birdies in five holes around the turn on the way to a two-under-par 68.
On a foggy afternoon at the brutally difficult Olympic Club, Simpson coolly pared his last eight holes to finish at one-over 281 as the other main contenders faded over the closing stretch.
"It was pretty nerve wracking," Simpson told NBC television after earning the winner's cheque for $1.44 million in the year's second major. "I knew it was a tough golf course.
"I had to go out and do as well as I could. 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 two under."
Northern Irishman McDowell, winner of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach two years ago, closed with a six-bogey 73 to finish joint second with little known American Michael Thompson (67).
As Simpson and his wife Dowd watched on television, McDowell had a chance to force a playoff with a downhill birdie putt from 25 feet at the par-four last but his attempt slid past the left edge of the cup.
"I thought even though Graeme had a 25-footer, it was probably going to hit the hole or have a good chance," Simpson said after being presented with the glittering U.S. Open trophy.
"I couldn't be happier right now. Congrats to Graeme and Michael for playing great golf."
Furyk, U.S. Open champion in 2003, was tied for the lead with three holes to play but bogeyed 16 and 18 for a 74 and a five-way share of fourth place at three over.
The 42-year-old failed to record a single birdie in the final round as he finished level with compatriots David Toms (68), Jason Dufner (70) and John Peterson (70), and Ireland's Padraig Harrington (68).
Three-times champion Tiger Woods, aiming to end a four-year major title drought, never recovered from a bogey, bogey, double-bogey start and tied for 21st at seven over after returning a 73.
"I felt great on the greens, had the perfect speed all day and unfortunately just got off to such an awful start," Woods said. "I tried coming in, but I was too far out.
"But overall, the way I struck the golf ball, the way I controlled it all week is something that's very positive going forward."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)