By Ann Liguori
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Webb Simpson, a 26-year-old from North Carolina, an Arnold Palmer Scholar from Wake Forest University, won the U.S. Open on Sunday with a 1-over 281, one shot ahead of Michael Thompson and Graeme McDowell.
Simpson, who won two PGA Tour titles last year, shot a two-under 68 in the final round, draining four birdies in five holes. But he had to navigate an up-and-down par save on the 18th, a nice chip shot out of a hole near a sprinkler head in greenside rough, to maintain his score of 1-over. He executed that shot beautifully, made the par and became the clubhouse leader at plus-1.
Jim Furyk, as steady as could be throughout the week, held the lead or a tie of the lead all day until the 16th. Then came his duck hook off the tee!
His bogie there dropped him out of the lead.
“I made one poor golf shot, the tee shot on 16,” said Furyk. “I played the wrong shot there … the tee was 100 yards up. … I should have hit two iron, two iron and hit it from there.”
McDowell birdied the 17th, Furyk parred it. They both needed birdies on the 18th to force a play-off as Simpson and his pregnant wife watched nervously from the clubhouse. It didn’t happen. Furyk bogied the hole, hitting a wild shot out of a greenside bunker. McDowell misread a 24-footer for birdie. Furyk finished tied for fourth. McDowell tied for second.
Tiger’s horrendous finish was surprising based on how sharp he played in rounds one and two. His front nine was awful — he had four bogeys and a double on the first six holes. He shot a plus three 73, and at seven over, tied for 21.
Can Tiger win another major? Perhaps, but the possibility can no longer consume our attention.
The baton was passed a while ago. With young guys like Webb Simpson, Michael Thompson, John Peterson, a 17-year-old named Beau Hossler and so much depth in the men’s game, fresh faces will help us forget that a guy named Tiger once dominated and was able to close out major championships.