McDowell Surprises at U.S. Open

U.S. Open Review

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell surprised everyone with his one-stroke victory in the U.S. Open

Phil Mickelson said it was a thrill to be in the hunt.  But, again, he did not win the one major he really wants to complete his resume.  Instead, the U.S. Open was won by…Pebble Beach.  Yes, the course just crushed the pros this week.  Open champion, Graeme  McDowell of Northern Ireland shot 3 over par in the last round and won by a shot over unknown and 391st ranked Gregory Havret of France.  It was the worst final 18 holes in a U.S. Open since Andy North won it back in the ’80’s.  And poor Dustin Johnson...he lead by three shots going into the final 18 holes…and shot an 82.  No wonder amateurs like myself just shake our heads when we play golf.

As I have said before, if the best pros in the world struggle, we non-pros are better off trying to keep up with the beer cart.

Pebble Beach was certainly a different course.  The weather was a non-factor…just a little breezy, but nothing like some of the weather you can see along the Monterey Peninsula.  McDowell played steady golf and seemed to really be enjoying himself.  The victory celebration after he holed his par putt on the 72nd hole was joyous.  His father came over from Northern Ireland to share in the day.  And, since the Open always is scheduled to end on Father’s Day, it was indeed special.

Also special was Ton Watson, with his son on the bag, walking up 18 to a tremendous ovation.  Watson, who won his only Open at Pebble, is 60 years old, and received a special exemption to play this year.  With tears visible, one could sense this is the last time he will play in the U.S. Open.

WHAT I WILL REMEMBER FROM THIS OPEN

1. Dustin Johnson’s epic flame-out.  His caddy said how Johnson flat-lines when he plays.  Yesterday, unfortunately, the pressure really got to this young man.  He couldn’t do anything right.  His caddy would never have let him hit driver after driver…hand him a three-wood…a five-wood…and let him get the ball in the fairway.  I don’t think this is the last we will hear from Johnson.  He can play…but this experience will make him better.

2. Tiger Woods is still in denial.  He said afterwards he only hit one bad shot.  Not the way I saw it…drive after drive into the rough.  He didn’t putt exceptionally well…his short game is still not there.  But, on Saturday, we saw the Tiger of old.  He was brilliant making shot after shot.  If Tiger really believes he hit only one bad shot, he will be heading to St. Andrews for the British Open next month as one of the favorites to win it all.  St. Andrews is his favorite course (except maybe for Torrey Pines and Pebble) and loves playing links golf.  I hope he is getting back.  It was a great Saturday…but his play Sunday was less than inspiring and made for some tough watching.

3. Who is Gregory Havret?  And will we ever hear from him again?  I don’t no…and probably not.  This was a fluke…like Paul Lawrie winning the British Open years ago…hasn’t been seen since.

4. Ernie Els…was this his last hurrah?  I love watching Big Easy…he has such a fluid swing and seems to be a really good guy.  Like Tiger and Phil, great to have him in the mix on Sunday.

5. I would have loved for NBC to interview McDowell’s father on the back nine.  I think this had to have been the thrill of his lifetime, and, instead of spending so much time watching Tiger scowl and Phil look like he just wasn’t sure why we wasn’t winning…it would have been great television.  And speaking of television, why is it that NBC had the hushed tones when announcing…like this is a sacred event.  It isn’t The Masters…ESPN seemed to have much more life to their telecast than NBC…But then again, Sunday was a quiet kind of day.

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