McDowell the champion at Pebble Beach

In yet another major boost for European golf, Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell has won the US Open at Pebble Beach, surviving a last day rout of many of those in or near the lead.

The 30 year old won by just one shot over Frenchman Gregory Havret with another shot back to Ernie Els. A rock solid par at the final hole enough to avoid an 18 hole playoff tomorrow.

McDowell was still coming to terms with his success during his press conference. "It's a pretty surreal feeling right now, I have to say. It hasn't really sunk in. I don't think I've put this thing (trophy) down since they gave it to me."

It was a good day. I really stuck to my plan, which was stick to my game plan, stay patient, stay calm and really put some nice calm swings on it and not really get sucked in by what the rest of the guys were doing. I did that for about ten holes.

"I bogeyed 9 and 10, didn't hit a good drive on 11, looked up at the leaderboard and saw it and really sort of knuckled down at that point, really sort of tried to get myself going and play hard on the back nine. And I was actually really proud of myself."

"But obviously I'm sure Gregory is disappointed. Bogey on 17 and not birdieing the last. I was watching him do it. 17 was just brutal today. It was a very difficult hole. The winds switched completely on me there. I didn't even get close to the right club in the end made bogey myself."

"I had an opportunity to go for 18 in two, but made the decision not to do that when he didn't make four. And it was a nice easy five in the end, which was thankfully no drama. And just very proud of the way I handled myself this week, and I just can't believe I have Major Champion after my name from now on. It's a special feeling."

"The U.S. Open has always been a tournament, you know, if people asked me which Major did I feel like my game is most suited to, I normally said the U.S. Open because I've always been pretty good off the tee, accuracy-wise. I've never really been the longest hitter in the world. But I certainly put a bit of yardage on the last year."

"But U.S. Open, I don't think I've ever missed the cut in the U.S. Open. The golf course has always kind of fitted my eye in some shape or form. I've just never really felt I had the short game to do it. I worked really hard on my short game the last couple of years, and came here early and really took my time on taking the golf course apart as far as the psychology to get around here."

To win at Pebble Beach, to join the names, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Tiger Woods, me (laughter) wow. I'm not quite sure if I belong in that list, but, hey, I'm there now. It's a pretty amazing feeling. This is -- I'd take a Major championship anywhere on the planet, I didn't really care."

"But, you know, to win the U.S. Open here at Pebble Beach is a special feeling. This golf course -- I came here I think in 2001, I was a college player over in Birmingham in Alabama, and we were playing a golf tournament locally, and we came here to have a look around. We were in awe of the place, and thinking, wow. It reminded me of home quite a lot, the coast line and the ocean and just the beauty of it all. The sun doesn't shine quite as much as it does here as it does at home."

While the quinella of McDowell and Havret would have been at ridiculous odds at the start of the week, they were the most composed and solid on day four and fully deserve their respective rewards.

Three shot 54 hole leader Dustin Johnson's worst nightmare as he slept on the lead could not have contained the scenario he experienced over the first four holes. He made a solid enough par at the first but things would come dramatically unstuck at the next when he triple bogeyed and then hit a wild tee shot at the 3rd, losing a ball in the process and taking a double bogey. At the next , the reachable par four 4th and a hole playing the second easiest all week, he again bogeyed and so not only was his three shot lead gone but his chances in the tournament which had looked so good an hour earlier had all but disappeared.

There to take advantage was McDowell. The 30 year old with four European Tour victories to his credit made a solid start with four consecutive pars before a nice birdie putt at the 5th had him one ahead of Els. Els had joined McDowell in the lead at 3 under but just when his experience may well have given the tag of being the likely winner he dropped four shots in the next four holes and was unable to fully recover. He held on to finish third alone and only two from the champion.

While Els, Mickelson and Woods threatened to apply the blow torch to the leader at various stages during their round their chances would rely on the leader coming back to them. He gave them cause for hope when he bogeyed the 9th, 10th and 14th holes but while McDowell was finding the holes on the back nine demanding so too were most others.

Playing with Woods was the 33 year old Frenchman Gregory Havret whose main claim to fame until now had been his win at the Scottish Open in 2008 when defeating Phil Mickelson in a playoff to win after catching him in the final round.

Like McDowell, Havret hardly put a foot wrong all day an opening hole birdie settling any nerves down especially given that he was playing with Tiger Woods. While a late qualifier for this event he soon began to like his chances of a good week.

"I didn't really expect anything," he said after his round. "I mean I came playing my first U.S. Open in Pebble Beach, a links course, which I love links courses. I really enjoy playing on this type of course. It suits fine to my game, I think, and I wasn't expecting anything.

But after nine holes, ten holes on Thursday, I felt confident. And said, okay, do whatever you can, just fight on everything. And if you have to fight to finish in the top-20, okay, fair enough. If it's to be better, okay. If it's to make the cut, it's going to be the same. It was my things -- my thoughts of this week, yeah, for sure."

It's my fourth Major, first at U.S. Open. It has been a great week. Of course I'm a bit disappointed now because I've been so close to heaven. But, anyway, it's great for me here, for sure."

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, two of the three pre tournament favourites along with Lee Westwood tied for 4th, Woods finishing 4th at the first two majors of the year while Mickelson of course has the Masters title and now this good finish to his credit.

Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby tied for 29th and were the only two Australians of the eleven who started the event to make the cut.

Pebble Beach was announced as the host venue for this event in 2019 and if the success of the event is anything like it has been this week then the USGA can be very thankful again.


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Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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