2012 U.S. OPEN
One by one, the origi- nal cast members— Fredrik Jacobson, Blake Adams, Nicolas Colsaerts, Beau Hossler and Lee Westwood— took their bows and exited the
closing scene of the 112th U.S Open. But only when the
last curtain call was echoing through the almost gothic
eeriness of a misty Olympic Club did the double act of
Furyk and McDowell (aka Jim and Graeme) finally go
their separate ways.
Only after 54 holes together over four days was it possible to pry apart the unorthodox multi-plane swings of
these former champions, Ryder Cup stalwarts and consummate grinders. It was McDowell who actually turned out to
be the straight(er) man. With each needing a birdie at the
344-yard 18th to tie Webb Simpson and force a playoff, the
stocky Northern Irishman safely found the putting surface
with his approach, before his American sidekick pulled a
wedge into a badly plugged lie in the left greenside bunker.
Not that it made much difference to the destination of
the trophy. Neither man would make it through to 9 a.m.
Monday morning and the dreaded second audition for
America’s national championship. McDowell’s two-putt
par from 24 feet was enough to see him form a new partnership with Michael Thompson in second place; Furyk’s
eventual bogey via another bunker left him as part of the
barbershop quintet tied for fourth.
to be no encore for either. No one, not even the eventual
champion, hung around the lead longer than the last pair
out on Sunday afternoon. And that, perhaps more than
anything, was their undoing. No event in golf exerts as
much physical and mental pressure as America’s national
championship. And eventually, something had to give.
Furyk, in fact, had the most to regret. One over par and
tied for the lead with three holes to play, the 2003 champion
hit what must be one of the worst shots of his enormously
successful if slow-moving career off the 16th tee. A viciously
hooked 3-wood, it led to a bogey 6 and left the 42-year-old
Pennsylvania native more than a little shell shocked.
“I don’t know how to put that one into words,” he
shrugged. “It was my tournament to win. And I played
quite well until the last three holes. Holes 70-72 cost me
What took even the experienced Furyk by surprise was
the position of the 16th tee. One day previously it had been a
671-yard par 5. Now, at the behest of USGA executive direc-
tor Mike Davis, that distance was cut by about 100 yards.
“There’s no way to prepare for that,” continued Furyk.
“The fairway makes a complete ‘L’ turn, and I didn’t know
where to hit the ball off the tee. I took too much of an
aggressive route with the 3-wood. In retrospect, I like the
way Graeme played the hole: 2-iron, 2-iron, sand wedge. I
just didn’t handle it very well. I’m not sure I hit the wrong
club, but I probably hit the wrong shot. As much as anything, that forced me to make a poor swing.
“But,” continued Furyk, “the rest of the field had that
same shot to hit today, and I’m pretty sure no one hit as
[awful] a shot as I did. I did the worst job of handling it,
and I have no one to blame but myself. If anything, you