Graeme McDowell became the first European back on 20 June 2010 to win the US Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970.
McDowell, who started the final round three behind Dustin Johnson, benefited from Johnson’s early travails to take the lead for good at the 5th hole. His final round of 74 was not the highest closing round by a winner in the past 25 years, but it was good enough for an even-par total of 284, a stroke better than the qualifier Gregory Havret of France, who shot 72.
Playing all day in a Pebble Beach Golf Links equivalent of an Irish mist, the then 30-year-old McDowell seized control of the championship with a birdie at the 5th that followed the end of a stunning meltdown by the overnight leader, Johnson.
Johnson, then 25, shot a closing round of 82 that began when he lost six strokes to par on a three-hole stretch starting at the par-four 2nd. In a flash flood of bad breaks and poor shot selection, he made triple-bogey with a short-iron from the middle of the fairway.
Johnson hit the approach from 165 yards with a 9-iron into a bad lie in the fescue right of the green, barely moved it with a left-handed slash, then rushed another shot, nearly whiffing it when the clubhead slid under the ball. His fifth shot went five feet past the hole, and he two-putted.
Losing his composure, Johnson then double-bogeyed the 3rd when his drive flew into a hazard, leading to a search for his ball. It was eventually found, 39 seconds after the five-minute search limit expired, and Johnson had to go back to the tee to hit another. He drove that shot into a bunker, hit the green and two-putted from 10 feet. Johnson declined to speak after his round.
Phil Mickelson shot a 73 to tie for fourth with Tiger Woods, who shot a 75. Woods, who began the day five strokes behind Johnson, bogeyed two of the first four holes, added two more at the 6th and the 8th holes, and made the turn five strokes behind McDowell. ‘I made three mental mistakes,’ Woods said, without elaborating, ‘and all that did was cost me the Open.’
Ernie Els also had his chances. He briefly tied for the lead before McDowell’s birdie at the 5th, but a tough three-hole stretch from the 9th to the 11th cost him any realistic chance he had. He played those holes bogey, double bogey, bogey and squandered a remarkable tap-in birdie at the 12th with a bogey at the vicious par-five 14th.
The South African had a slim chance when he came to the famous 17th hole at one-over par, two shots behind McDowell, who had just bogeyed the 14th to slip to one-under. But like many before him, Els found the left-front bunker. He exploded to six feet beyond the back-left hole location, but missed the putt. He dropped to two-over, made par from the front bunker at the last and finished alone in third place at two-over par.
That left it all up to Havret, ranked 391st in the world, a qualifier who was trying to become the first Frenchman to win a Major since 1907. But when it came down to it, he played the final two holes in one-over after a bogey at the 17th and a two-putt par at the 18th.