At the Olympic Clubhouse, Webb Simpson locked his eyes on a small television and watched as Graeme McDowell’s 24-foot, playoff-inducing putt, sailed left. As he embraced his wife and celebrated alongside his caddy with an ear-to-ear grin, it set in that he was the new US Open champion.
The 2012 US Open concluded its competition Sunday in San Francisco, Calif., at the Olympic Club with Simpson finishing first. The Olympic Club course was set at par 70 for the weekend.
Simpson shot a 68 on Sunday, knotting his overall score at 1-over par — one stroke better than Michael Thompson and Graeme McDowell, who both tied for second place.
“This is only my second U.S. Open, and so I told myself, ‘don’t get too excited, don’t try to win,’” Simpson said. “When I was out there at first, I never really wrapped my mind around winning.”
Before this weekend, Simpson competed in only four majors, his best finish coming in the 2011 US Open at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. Simpson now has three PGA tour wins and can now update his “best finish record” to first after his efforts at the Olympic Club.
Since not a single player finished under par after 72 holes, it’s clear that this course wasn’t “golfer-friendly.” Other than the fairways and greens, it seemed as if the sand traps were the better lies this weekend in San Francisco. The course served as a hellacious challenge to all golfers during the four-round tournament, including many of PGA’s biggest stars.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson both had less than spectacular outings in the final two days. Woods, who was tied for the lead after the first two rounds, finished tied for 21st with 7 strokes over par, and Mickelson finished tied for 65th with 16 strokes over par.
Other notable golfers that were strong contenders in the PGA this year, such as Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen and Rory McIlroy, failed to make the cut after the first two rounds.
“You hear all the guys say it, but it’s so true. The course is so hard, you don’t know if you’re going to make three or four bogeys in a row,” Simpson said. “I definitely thought about winning and wanted to win, but I was just trying to keep my mind focused on the hole that I was playing and just somehow make pars.”
Aside from the less impressive overall scores by every contestant, the amateurs that competed were another big story. Of the three amateurs that made the cut, Texas freshman and All-American Jordan Spieth finished best, tying for 21st overall with a 7-over par performance throughout the week.
After barely making the cut Friday being right at the +8 line, Spieth climbed the leaderboard and had a 1-under, 69-stroke day, marking his first round in the 60s at a major. “It was really hard,” Spieth said. “I was happy to get in my first round in the 60s in a major. That’s pretty cool. I felt like I played really well Saturday.”
Behind the low amateur Spieth were 17-year-old Beau Hossler (+9) and Patrick Cantlay (+11). On the final round Sunday, Hossler, a soon-to-be senior in high school and commit to the Forty Acres, donned a Texas Longhorns polo and a burnt orange and white Texas visor. “It’s only a learning experience, and I still have some time before I come out and start doing this for a living,” Hossler said.
Spieth was also excited to see the future teammate playing as well as he was on the course. “It would have been nice for both of us to be standing out there with the week that he had,” Jordan said in regard to Hossler’s second-place finish in the amateur race. “You’re going to see him not too far from now having plenty of success.”