US Open 2012: Lessons from Webb Simpson’s triumph

Webb Simpson holds off Graeme McDowell to clinch his maiden Major title with victory in the US Open in San Francisco

webb simpson
Graeme McDowell narrowly missed out on his second Major Photo: K Allison, via Flickr

webb simpson

The Olympic Course was too difficult

Last year, the US Open was won with a score of sixteen under par – set by Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy. As a result, it seemed clear that the tournament’s creators this year wanted to ensure that a young pretender would not win one of golf’s most coveted prizes by simply hitting the ball longer and straighter than anybody else. However, although the intention was correct, the execution produced a US Open course that barely allowed for the best players in the game to showcase their skill sets. The very nature of the course at Olympic means that precision hitting is essential and the course does not naturally favour those who can hit the ball long and straight. This week we saw near impossible pin placements and fairways cut unfavourably for the players. By all means, the US Open should test players, but any Major should capture the imagination of the viewing public. Like it or not, Webb Simpson scrapping to a win with a score of one over par will not excite spectators in the same way that McIlroy’s win did last year.

Perfect play from Simpson

Not many people considered Webb Simpson as someone who could even compete in this year’s US Open, let alone win the tournament. However, in retrospect, the American played both the course and the occasion perfectly by keeping under the radar and away from the spotlight until the very last moments. By playing consistently all week and then producing a good last round, the 26-year-old managed to secure his first Major and almost certainly a spot on the US Ryder Cup team this year.

McDowell is back with a bang

Perhaps the biggest winner this week is Graeme McDowell. Although that may sound like an extremely illogical statement to make considering the Northern Irishman suffered heartache, missing out on the chance to win his second Major, he proved above all else that he is a force in world golf. The irony is that McDowell did not play to anywhere near his potential at Olympic, and but for razor sharp accuracy from the rough and superb putting on the greens, he would not have been anywhere near the leaders. McDowell has proven this week that there is more to European golf than the trio of Luke Donald, McIlroy and Lee Westwood. Although golf seems to be swinging back to US dominance, Europe have players more than capable of causing problems in the match play format – a good sign ahead of the Ryder Cup. If McDowell can finish second without playing well, imagine how he will fair on top of his game.

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