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After the Big Names Crumble, Webb Simpson Wins the U.S. Open

There’s one thing to be said for the U.S. Open: it’s always exciting. Before Thursday began it was all about Tiger Woods, and people just couldn’t wait to see what he was going to do. For the first two days of the tournament he seemed to be proving everyone right and looked like he was back at the top of his game. Then Sunday came and Tiger fell apart. And while two other favorites — Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell — didn’t crash and burn; they didn’t soar on to victory either. That honor was reserved for Webb Simpson.

Simpson started out on the tournament flying very low on the radar. Bogeying two of the first five holes and going up five above par, he certainly didn’t pose a threat — especially with so many of the big names doing so well. But it all came down to the 18th hole. Tiger was already out, Simpson held the lead, and all that was left was for Furyk and McDowell to finish up. McDowell birdied hole 17 to keep him in it but his 24-foot miss on the last hole finished him off. And with no trophy to speak of.

“There’s a mixture of emotions inside me right now…disappointment, deflation, pride, but mostly just frustration,” McDowell said after being knocked out of the running. “That’s the U.S. Open. You’re supposed to hit it in some fairways. And that was the key today really for me.”

But Furyk was the real threat. It was he who had held the lead since Friday; and taking it away from him was going to be tough. All Simpson could do was sit and wait. A bogey on the 16th hole was enough to revive hope in any of his competitors, but when his ball dropped in the sand on hole 18, the tournament was Simpson’s. At the end of the day, Webb Simpson, another U.S. Open unlikely, walked away with the US Open Championship Trophy and a cheque for $1.44 million.

In an interview with NBC after the tournament Simpson said, “It was pretty nerve wracking. 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.”

Whatever it was it worked; and that, along with a quiet determination for all 18 holes, won Simpson the 2012 U.S. Open. In the meantime, he provided golf enthusiasts with a thrilling match that lasted all weekend long.