SAN FRANCISCO -- Your new U.S. Open champion is a 26-year-old father of one with another on the way. He admits to a weakness for Bojangles biscuits and fried chicken, inspired the USGA to change one of the Rules of Golf, and missed his last two cuts coming into the season's second major at Olympic Club.
James Frederick "Webb" Simpson, who broke through with two victories in 2011 but was in the midst of an unremarkable 2012, carded his second straight 68 at fog-shrouded Olympic for a one-over total and a one-shot victory over Graeme McDowell (73) and Michael Thompson (67) at the 112th Open on Sunday.
"One of my thoughts on the back nine was, 'I don't know how Tiger has won 14 of these things,'" Simpson said, "because the pressure -- I couldn't feel my legs most of the back nine."
McDowell birdied the 17th hole and had a chance to force a Monday playoff, but his birdie putt from 24 feet on the 18th hole wasn't close, missing left. Simpson and his wife, Dowd, watching cell phone videos of their son, James, in an effort to remain calm, hugged after McDowell's ball eased past the hole.
"There's a mixture of emotions inside me right now," said McDowell, who was trying to win the U.S. Open for the second time in three years. "Obviously disappointment, deflation, pride -- but mostly just frustration, just because I hit three fairways today. That's the U.S. Open. You're not supposed to do that."
Jason Dufner (70), Jim Furyk (74), Padraig Harrington (68), John Peterson (70) and David Toms (68) tied for fourth place at three over par, two back.
Children and adults huddled in blankets as the fog turned to a fine mist on a day that was nothing like the first three at this course tucked into the hills by the Pacific Ocean. Second- and third-round co-leader Furyk looked solid while making a series of pars until a shocking snap-hook off the tee at the par-5 16th, where USGA officials moved the tees up to alter the hole from a 670-yard behemoth to 569 yards. He bogeyed three of his last six holes to tie for fourth.
"I don't know how to put that one into words," said a despondent Furyk, who was trying for his second major and 17th official Tour win. "But I had my opportunities and my chances and it was right there. It was my tournament to win."