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Before the 112th US Open began at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, CA, there were some logical names that people could see taking home the trophy come Sunday. Perhaps Tiger Woods could win his first major in four years. Phil Mickelson was due for a US Open victory. Maybe 2012 Masters Champion Bubba Watson? What about the World's number 1 golfer right now, Luke Donald? It could very well have been last years US Open winner Rory McIlroy, or even 2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell. Rickie Fowler has had a great 2012 season to this point.
The 2012 US Open winner was not one of the above. In fact, it surprisingly happened to be none other than a man who had played in 5 major tournaments in his career. Webb Simpson moved up 9 spots to 5th in the world rankings following his first major championship victory yesterday.
Simpson, 26, was born in Raleigh, NC and went to college at Wake Forest University under an Arnold Palmer scholarship. He earned his PGA tour card in 2008, and had only won only 2 tournaments prior to taking home the US Open trophy yesterday. Going into Sunday it looked as if it might have been a two-man race between more household names, Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell, who shared the lead at 1-under through 54 holes. They both lost their leads on Sunday, Furyk shooting a +4 (74) finishing tied for 4th at +3 for the tournament and McDowell shooting a +3 (73) finishing tied for 2nd at +2. McDowell had a chance to force a full 18-hole playoff Monday if he was able to hit a 24 foot birdie putt on 18. He ended up pulling it left of the hole and the US Open went to Simpson. The leader after 18 holes, Michael Thompson, ended up tied for 2nd with McDowell at +2 for the Championship.
As for Tiger Woods, his chances of placing 1st at the US Open lessened after Saturday's +5 (75). However, following the first 6 holes Sunday, he lost all chances of winning his 15th major championship. The first 6 holes at Olympic troubled many golfers all tournament, and it was no different for Tiger, who shot +6 through those 6 very demanding holes Sunday. Woods played well in the final 12 holes, shooting -3, but it was in vain as he finished the final round at +3 (73) and tied for 21st at +7 overall. Despite the poor finish he was accurate off the tee, hitting 33 of 56 fairways as well as 45 of 72 greens in regulation. His achilles heel most of the weekend was his putting as accumulated a total of 123 putts (1.71 putts per hole) for the championship.
The USGA must have been more than satisfied with how the the Lake Course at Olympic Club played this weekend. They pride themselves on making the US Open as difficult as possible and it certainly showed in the scoring, where no one finished even par or better. Simpson flew under the radar all tournament long, and that might be the blueprint for success. The last nine major champions have been won by first-time major winners. Simpson, who never lead in the US Open until he was in the clubhouse after 72 holes, shot a final round -2 (68), which was his score in round 3 as well. His -4 performance through the last 36 holes of the US Open was what separated him from the rest of the field over the weekend. Webb Simpson hit 31 of 56 fairways and 42 of 72 greens in regulation, while accumulating only 114 putts (1.58 putts per hole) to capture his first ever major championship.