by Jeff Skinner
It wasn’t very pretty. In fact it was pretty darn ugly. The final round of the US Open at Pebble Beach resembled a demolition derby more than a major championship. All the leaders struggled off the tee, with their approaches and especially on the greens. None of the six golfers in the last three groups broke par, the best round they could manage was one over par. Graeme McDowell hung on to win his first major championship with a mediocre three over 74 for a one stroke win over Gregory Havret.
The meltdown started early when leader Dustin Johnson took triple bogey, double bogey and bogey over holes two thru four. Johnson, who started the day with a three stroke lead, was out of the running right then and McDowell who played the first five holes in one under par found himself in the lead again.
There was no charge by the world number one as Tiger Woods bogeyed three of his first six holes. He still had trouble hitting a fairway and his putter that had worked for him yesterday was balky at best today.
Phil Mickelson looked to be ready to make a charge right out of the starting gates with a birdie on number one but he squandered many chances when he failed to convert makeable birdie putts on the next six holes. His string of eight consecutive pars after his birdie was no help and a 39 on the back nine left him in a disappointing tie for fourth place. At least it wasn’t another second place finish for Phil.
Phil’s playing partner, Ernie Els made an early charge with three birdies over his first six holes. He looked primed to challenge McDowell when he got to three under, one stroke behind him. When he put two balls in the hazard on ten he was in desperate trouble. His bogey on seventeen, which he played in five over for the week, ended his chances and he finished the back nine in forty strokes and a 73 for the round.
Gregory Havret, a Frenchman with a world Golf Ranking of 391, was McDowell’s biggest threat all afternoon. He didn’t play spectacular golf but was steady enough to be one back of the lead and at even par for the day when he teed off on the seventeenth hole. His bogey there gave McDowell a two shot cushion going into eighteen. From that point it was all in McDowell’s hands.
McDowell didn’t so much win this championship as he survived it. McDowell had to be feeling for Johnson early on but still trying to stay focused on his game. He was busy making pars while Dustin Johnson was imploding on the front nine. His one birdie, four bogey round was enough to get the job done with three of the world’s best golfers doing their best to hunt him down. As ugly a finish as it was, McDowell certainly earned his victory over a very difficult US Open course.