104th U.S. Open

Goosen is U.S. Open Champ
- but Shinnecock Hills beat them all

Retief Goosen won his second US Open title at Shinnecocks Hills on Sunday with a one over par round of 71, giving him a 2 shot victory over Phil Mickelson. If you didn't already know better, you might think that he must have had a decent lead after 54-holes to have achieved victory with an over-par round.


Winner, Retief Goosen.
Photo - Getty images

After all, we have come to expect the best golfers in the world to beat the golf course by at least three or four shots per round. Not the case at Shinnecock Hills this weekend, especially not on Sunday. Only one player, Robert Allenby, managed to achieve par for the course and the average score among this elite bunch was just shy of 79, nine over par. That puts Goosen's final round into perspective and indeed, his victory was well deserved.
Except for runner-up, Phil Mickelson, the rest of the field failed to cope with the dried out course with its rock-solid, sloping greens in addition to the anticipated blustery conditions.
It could have been a different story. The two stroke winning margin was a gift from Phil Mickelson on the par-3 17th green. Mickelson's recovery from the greenside bunker left him a five-footer for par, albeit from above the hole. He had been sinking similar putts all week but not only did he let this one slide four feet past the hole, he missed the return as well and took a double-bogey.


Dejected Mickelson leaving 17th green.
(Getty Images)


Jeff Maggert.
(Getty Images)

Never a serous threat to the leading pair, Jeff Maggert carded a respectable two over par 72 to finish a further three shots back in third place. Although Maggert was not touted as a possible contender for the title before the tournament began, his performance reminded us why he has now finished in the top ten at the U.S. Open seven times in eleven starts.
Shigeki Maruyama carded a 6 over par 76 on Sunday to finish with a share of fourth place, eight strokes behind the winner. The player who my wife refers to as "your little smiling Japanese man" was prominent on the leaderboard all week but, like the rest of the field, had little to smile about on Sunday. Still, his solid performance earned him enough points to move him back into the World Rankings top-25 at #23.


Shigeki Maruyama.
(Getty Images)


Mike Weir.
(Getty Images)

The other player with a share of fourth place was Canada's left-hander, Mike Weir, who posted a creditable 74 despite dropping shots on five of the first seven holes. The 2003 Masters champion has now finished in the top ten at four of the last six majors which certainly helps him maintain his status as sixth best golfer in the world.
A shot further back in solo sixth place was Fred Funk who finished with a 77 for a five over par total of 285. The fact that he currently leads the Tour in driving accuracy with 78.8% of fairways hit this year, was certainly a contributing factor in the 48-year-old's performance here. There is also no doubt that he fed off the encouragement of the crowd which followed him, and playing partner Mickelson, round the last 18 holes.


Fred Funk.
(Getty Images)


Ernie Els.
(Getty Images)

Spencer Levin finished with a 75 to earn him a share of 13th place with his 8 over par total of 288. Not only did that make him top amateur but also earns him a guaranteed place at next year's U.S. Open which will be staged at Pinehurst.

World number two,Ernie Els, who started the day tied with Mickelson at two shots behind Goosen, soon fell away and finished with a ten over par round of 80. Tiger Woods posted a 76 and Vijay Singh could only manage 78.

In fact, no less than 28 of the 66 players posted scores in the eighties on Sunday. Shinnecock Hills is always set up to be tough when it hosts the U.S. Open but maybe this year they went a little bit too far.
 

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