McDowell holds on to win messy U.S. Open

June 20, 2010 | Drew Forrester

They were supposed to play the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach on Sunday, but they evidently hosted the 2nd Flight club championship instead.

It was so bad that Dustin Johnson got dropped to the Third Flight midway through his Sunday round.

And when the sun finally set on a wild final day of the 2010 U.S. Open, the guy who played the best for four days – Graeme McDowell – wound up winning by one shot.

McDowell steadied himself on the inward nine, which is code word for: he made just enough mistakes to win. Birdies were as rare as church picnic invites for Tiger, and the world’s best players hit some of the world’s worst shots in the final nine holes.

Overnight leader Dustin Johnson didn’t wait until the back nine to initiate his vomit-session, as he played the first 3 holes in +5 en- route to a forgettable 82.

Ernie Els hung around just long enough to miss a handful of make-able putts, reminding us all once again why he hasn’t won the U.S. Open since 1997.

Phil Mickelson can add this one to the long list of U.S. Opens that escaped his grasp. Mickelson’s putter – generally his most reliable weapon – was as sketchy as a World Cup soccer referee and his ragged bogey from 90 yards at the par-5 14th was his final blunder.

Tiger Woods was never a factor on Sunday, with bogeys at 1, 4 and 6 removing him from serious contention.

Ultimately, two men, McDowell and Frenchman Gregory Havret, were left to dual on the final two holes. Neither could make par at 17 and Havret had a benign 12-footer at 18 to tie the lead with McDowell, who watched it all from the right rough some 225 yards away.

Havret missed and settled for par, leaving him at +1 and leaving McDowell and his caddy to discuss their options with the title on the line.

“I can hit 2-iron,” McDowell said, “but I’m afraid it might squirrel out of here and leave me in no man’s land.”

“No, we hit 9-iron, sand wedge and get it done,” replied his caddy, who obviously remembered that pars, not 2-irons out of the rough, win U.S. Opens.

McDowell complied, sort of, by hitting 8-iron, sand wedge to 30 feet and two-putting for the victory.

It capped off a wild week of golf at Pebble Beach, where the winner couldn’t break par over 72 holes and the world’s best players were left shaking their heads on Sunday evening.

It was, like it almost always is, a great golf tournament.

And the right guy won.