If you watched final round coverage of the U.S. Open today, you might equate it with the word “difficult.” That feeling was set early on when Dustin Johnson, leader after the third round, had a triple bogey on the second hole, in route to an 82 on the day. That pretty much set the pace for everyone else on the day, as it sort of became a tournament where you wondered who was going to make the next bad shot. But one man limited his mistakes. And that man was Graeme McDowell, who shot a 74 on the round, and finished at even par on the tournament, with a one-stroke victory over Gregory Havret.
McDowell never looked all that shaken. Sure, he had three bogeys on the back nine, but bogeys were probably a good thing on this day, where it seemed like double and triple bogeys were waiting right around the corner for everyone on the course. He made some good iron shots down the stretch that saved him from those potential problems, and held off the rest of the field, who mightily struggled to make a run at the leader.
I really thought that Ernie Els might be the one to catch McDowell, and make things interesting towards the end of the round, but he finished two strokes off the lead at the end, after three bogeys and one double bogey on the brutal back nine. Although he couldn’t get the job done today, I think it sets up well for Ernie next month at St. Andrews. It’ll hurt for a while, but he’s back to playing great golf, and he’ll definitely be one of the favorites heading into the British Open.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were among those who just couldn’t make the birdie that they needed to make in order to catch McDowell. Tiger and Phil both finished at 3-over par for the championship, with Tiger shooting a 75 on the final round, and Phil with a 73. Tiger struggled early with three bogeys through six holes, and didn’t make the vintage Tiger shots that we saw glimpses of yesterday. Meanwhile, Phil had three bogeys on the back nine, which again, allowed McDowell to hold on and just play his game and not worry about everyone else behind him.
While it wasn’t the prettiest of final rounds at a major championship, it was still great to see McDowell pick up the victory. It seems like he’s been around the top at certain majors over the last several years, but it’s usually been on the first few days, and not on the weekend. He moved past that today though, and picked up a great victory at Pebble Beach.
So congrats to McDowell on the win, and I’m sure his confidence will be riding high heading into the golf’s third major next month!