From the PGA Tour: Simpson shines with major breakthrough
To demonstrate how talented the young American Webb Simpson really is, he saved his best for the back nine in a pressure packed Sunday afternoon to win his first major championship, the US Open at Olympic Club (par 70) in San Francisco.
The 26 year Simpson who was not on many radars as a favorite to capture the championship snuck up from behind to win and become the 9th first time major championship winner in the last 10 majors.
“To be honest, I never wrapped my mind around winning,” he commented after his win. He shot a steady 2 under par 68 on Sunday to end up with a total score of 1 over par for the event to beat Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell and American Michael Thompson by 1 stroke.
This also marks 3 major wins in a row for American players, 2 of which are under 30 years of age.
Simpson started the final round on Sunday a monumental 4 strokes behind leader American Jim Furyk. Webb knew however, even only playing in his 2nd US Open that no lead was enough at Olympic Club in San Francisco.
After Webb finished his final round and posted the clubhouse lead he was asked about his day to which he said: “It’s pretty nerve-wracking. I’m glad my wife is here with me in the booth. It was just a cool day. I had a piece all day. I knew it was a tough golf course.”
The talk at the start of the tournament revolved around Tiger Woods. He had just won his second tournament in 2012 at The Memorial 2 weeks earlier to tie Jack Nicklaus for PGA Tour wins and was the odds on favorite. It started as a historical US Open with Andy Zhang of China becoming the youngest person ever to qualify for the event at the tender age of 14.
The first round concluded with American Michael Thompson posting a 4 under par 66 to take the lead over Tiger Woods and 4 others who all shot a 1 under par 69.
Thompson, who was flying unnoticed, commented about the attention he started receiving after moving up the leaderboard:”Got a little nervous there once all those cameras showed up. It’s always a little bit of an adjustment,” said Thompson.
Woods brought his best to the 2nd round and shared the lead after 36 holes posting an even par 70 in round 2. He was tied with Americans Jim Furyk and David Toms who shot a 69 and 70 respectively.
Woods reflected on his steady play when he said: “You have to stay patient, got to stay present, and you’re just playing for a lot of pars. This is not a tournament where we have to make a bunch of birdies. Just got to just hang in there with a bunch of pars.”
Unfortunately, Woods game would not withstand a 3rd round test when he fired a miserable 5 over par 75 and fell to 4 over par for the event and off the leaderboard.
Furyk and McDowell now set the pace with scores of 70 and 68 respectively. Both men were at 1 under par for the event and incidentally are both former US Open champions.
It was Simpson however who stole the show in the final round. Only playing in his 5th major championship, he played like a veteran and held his game together in the mystical San Francisco fog. As Furyk and McDowell showed vulnerabilities a few groups behind him, Simpson and his veteran caddie Paul Tessori stuck to their game plan.
Tessori, a former PGA Tour player himself kept Simpson focused on the prize by suggesting he not look at the leaderboard.
As Simpson would later admit heeding Paul’s advice was the right call. Ever since their partnership
began over a year ago Tessori has assisted Simpson in all his 3 wins and most importantly this historical Major triumph.
After making a critical par on the 18th hole to post the clubhouse lead at 1 over par for the event Webb strolled into the locker room to wait for McDowell and Furyk to finish.
Webb and his wife Dowd who is 7 months pregnant expecting their 2nd child watched nervously as Jim Furyk made a mockery of the final hole with bogie and fall further behind Simpson.
It was then McDowell’s turn to attempt a long birdie putt on 18 to tie Simpson. McDowell’s putt however was left of the hole all the way and not even close.
The startled Simpson was asked about this later and he said: “When Graeme missed on 18 and I realized I had won, I just kind of shook my head in disbelief, I couldn’t believe it actually happened.”
Responding to how he felt all day and after the round and what he wanted to do Simpson said: “I was so nervous all day, but especially there at the end. Even when I was done I was nervous. I wanted to go some place quiet with my wife.”
The humble Simpson summed it all up at the end when he talked about the pressure and what the victory meant to him: “If I was honest with you I believed in myself I could win a Major, but maybe not so soon. This is my fourth or fifth. And I just gained all the respect for the guys who have won multiple Majors, because it’s so hard to do.
The level of pressure is so much greater than a regular event.” Webb Simpson is now living proof of someone who never gave up no matter what the odds were and unsuspectingly claimed America’s national championship on a very special Sunday in June.