A pair of Watsons and Simpsons
At Augusta we had another Watson, Bubba
and not Tom, slipping into the Green Jacket. Now a second Simpson,
Webb and not Scott, has raised the US Open trophy.
Two Majors won on the same course by a
namesake a generation on.
Simpson became the ninth consecutive
first-time winner of a Major, a run that began over two years ago
with Graeme McDowell's US Open victory at Pebble Beach.
It also means that should an American
come out on top at Lytham next month, the country will once again
hold all four Major titles.
As seems to be the way at Olympic, the
underdog again had his day. While all the attention was on the
attritional final group of Jim Furyk and McDowell, and Lee Westwood
and Ernie Els had themselves in perfect position, it was the
unfancied Simpson, +5 at halfway and well down the field, who posted
a 68 to finish and set a clubhouse total that none could match.
Same old story for Westwood
With his stoic acceptance, Westwood is
an endearing figure. But even his most optimistic supporters must be
fearing for his chances of winning a Major.
Yet again, he manoeuvred himself into a
threatening position, beginning the final day three shots behind the
Yet again, he was simply unable to
convert any chances on the greens.
Yet again, every time he hit a less
than perfect shot it seemed to result in a bogey or worse.
Yet again, his chipping was
The break on the 5th was a
bad one, no doubt about it, when his ball lodged in a tree. But there
was still time to recover.
It never happened.
Westwood did eagle the 17th,
but it was too late by then and as he said himself he practically had
to hole his approach to set it up.
You have to admire his resilience but
you wonder whether the brave face he presents in public is matched by
what he says and feels in private.
McDowell gets the most out of his game
By contrast, McDowell was far from his
best in the final round at Olympic, barely hitting a fairway. It was
hard to keep count of the number of shots he turned away from. Yet he
kept coming back for more, kept hitting putts that had a chance, even
if they did not go in, and kept converting chances when they came
While he will be rightly disappointed
not to have added a second Major when so well placed, he should be
proud of how close he came. That he had a pitt to tie Simpson on the
72nd green was a tribute to his tenaciousness.
It was also huge boost to his chances
of qualifying for the European Ryder Cup team.
Harrington has the Major knack
Quietly, slowly, Harrington is coming
back towards the sort of form that saw him claim three Majors in the
space of little more than a year, the last of them the 2008 PGA.
He is such a dangerous competitor in
the Majors because while others, like Furyk, Westwood and Els seem to
be carrying baggage, Harrington is at his best in such circumstances.
After finishing in a tie for 4th
at Olympic, he explained how he feels there is more scope to make
mistakes and recover at Majors, and especially the US Open, because
nobody gets far under par.
By contrast, he said, “if you're not
four under after nine every other week then you're already chasing”.
It was a fascinating insight into the
way his mind works and also the way he plays – Harrington knows his
game is not perfect but he's comfortable with that and happy to
recover when required.
USA Ryder Cup team strong and deep
This will surely be the best American
Ryder Cup team since at least 1999 and arguably further back.
At last, there are credible successors
to the likes of Tiger, Phil, Furyk and Stricker. Making their second
appearances will be the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Matt
Kuchar and Bubba Watson, and you can add to that debutants like
Simpson, Jason Dufner and Keegan Bradley. That's not to mention
It is all set up to be the greatest
Ryder Cup in history – with both teams packed with in-form players
at the very top of the game.