110th U.S. Open/June 17-20, 2010
Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, Calif.
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|Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland||71||-||68||-||71||-||74||—||284|
|Gregory Havret, France||73||-||71||-||69||-||72||—||285|
|Ernie Els, South Africa||73||-||68||-||72||-||73||—||286|
|Phil Mickelson, United States||75||-||66||-||73||-||73||—||287|
|Tiger Woods, United States||74||-||72||-||66||-||75||—||287|
Many thought it would be the 20-something “kid” from Northern Ireland — superstar-in-the-making Rory McIlroy — who would break his country’s longstanding majors drought.
Turns out the native land was in good hands with Graeme McDowell.
Benefiting from a monumental meltdown by overnight leader Dustin Johnson, McDowell became the first European to win a U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin at Hazeltine National Golf Club in 1970.
He also became the second Northern Irishman to capture a major title: Fred Daly was the first at the 1947 British Open.
It wasn’t McDowell’s finest round of golf, but perhaps under the cool conditions and high-pressure circumstances it was one of his steadiest.
Which is not the word used to describe what Johnson was doing in the early part of his final round. Starting with a three-shot advantage, the long hitter from South Carolina couldn’t escape the rough alongside the second hole, scoring a triple bogey 7.
A hole later, he made a double bogey — and disappeared entirely after a 10-over 82, the highest score a 54-hole leader had produced since 1911. He finished tied for eighth.
Meanwhile, McDowell, a Portrush native, had two birdies and a bogey on the front nine and suddenly found himself in the lead.
Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods all made strong surges but fell back with critical back-nine bogeys — or in Els’ case, a double bogey at the 10th hole.
Coming down the stretch, the only man who had a chance to catch McDowell was Gregory Havret, a European Tour colleague who was playing in his first U.S. Open. Havret was ranked 391st in the world coming into the national open.
Havret had a 12-foot putt for birdie on the finishing hole, a par 5, to tie for the lead. He badly missed it for a 72.
Despite dropping three shots on the back, all McDowell needed to win was to make par on the 18th hole, which he did to become a major champion.
“I think I’ve died and gone to heaven, for sure,” McDowell said.
The USGA awarded Tom Watson a special exemption to play in this U.S. Open — the site of his dramatic 1982 victory.