Graeme McDowell Wins 110th U.S. Open At Pebble Beach

June 21, 2010- By Jonathan Lowell

Graeme McDowell became the first golfer from Northern Ireland, and the first European in 40 years to win the U.S. Open Sunday evening.  He finished with a 3-over 74 to win the tournament, after Dustin Johnson let the lead slip away.

Though the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Ernie Els were breathing down his neck, McDowell didn’t falter.  He approached the 18th green with a two-putt opportunity to win.  Overall he shot a even-par 284 for the tournament.  McDowell understands the historic company he is now a part of.

“To win at Pebble Beach, to join the names — Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Tiger Woods, me — wow!” McDowell said. “I’m not quite sure if I belong in that list, but hey, I’m there now. It’s a pretty amazing feeling.”

An unexpected contender in Gregory Havret was the toughest challenger to McDowell’s lead.  The Frenchman ranked No. 391 in the world shot a 72, and finished one stroke behind McDowell.  Failure to convert putts on the final holes prevented him from taking the tournament from McDowell.

“When you have Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els there, you’re not expecting Gregory Havret to be the guy you’ve got to fend off,” McDowell said.

Johnson had a three-shot lead going into Sunday, but suffered a major collapse on the second hole of the round.  He triple-bogeyed the third hole, and followed with a double bogey on the next to erase any chance he had to win.

McDowell needed only one birdie, and two putts on the final hole to win the first Major Championship of his career.

“I can’t believe I’m standing with this right now,” McDowell said, posing with silver trophy. “It’s a dream come true. I’ve been dreaming it all my life. Two putts to win the U.S. Open. Can’t believe it happened.”

Woods blamed mental errors during the round for his fourth place finish.  He bogeyed the first five holes of the round, and finished with a 75.

“I made three mental mistakes,” Woods said. “The only thing it cost us was a chance to win the U.S. Open.”

Tied for fourth with Woods was Mickelson, who finished with a 73 Sunday.  He would have replaced Woods as the world No. 1 with a win at Pebble Beach, but failed to score less than par on any hole Sunday.

“It was anybody’s ball game,” Mickelson said. “I had a number of opportunities to get well under par, and I didn’t do it.”

USA sportsbooks have set Tiger Woods as the favorite to win the next Major Championship at the British Open.  His future line is set at +200.  Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington, and Ernie Els are all second behind Woods at +1200.  McDowell is among the underdogs at +5000.

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