It was a late one as we went stroke-by-stroke for the climax of the golf season’s second major. It’s day four of the 2012 US Open at the Olympic Club, San Francisco.
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Leaderboard: +1 Simpson; +2 McDowell, Thompson; +3 Furyk, Toms, Harrington, Peterson, Dufner
21.52 – The football may be over for another day but if you thought it was time to go to bed, I’ve got news for you — this Sunday night of sport is just getting started.
It wouldn’t be a US Open leaderboard without an Irish name loitering near the top and tonight is no exception. Portrush’s Graeme McDowell, who is seeking to regain the title he won in 2010, shares the overnight lead as we head into day four of the 2012 US Open at the Olympic Club, San Francisco.
Jim Furyk is alongside him on one-under par with a host of golf’s top names clustered behind — not least Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods. It’s all set up to be an absolute cracker.
It’s going to be a long, late night but I’m here until the bitter end and I hope you’ll join me, at least for a little while.
21.58 – When I say it’s going to be a late one, I really mean it. The eight-hour time difference between Ireland and San Francisco means that most of the main contenders are still out on the practice ground finalising their preparations. The leaders, McDowell and Furyk, won’t tee off for over another hour at 23:10 Irish time. Expect a finish some time around 3am, provided we don’t need a playoff.
Tiger Woods, who is currently five shots back on +4, has just teed off in his final round by sending his opening shot a yard wide of the fairway and into the first cut of rough.
Tiger was in excellent form on Thursday and Friday with a 69 and a 70 but slipped back into the chasing pack yesterday. With the course deliberately set up to prevent high scoring, is he too far behind?
22.02 – Here’s how the leaderboard looks as we get down to the business end of proceedings:
- -1: Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell
- +1: Fredrik Jacobson
- +2: Nicolas Colsaerts, Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, Blake Adams
Colsaerts will be first out of that group at 22:40 alongside Webb Simpson (+3).
22.17 – Declaration of interest: I backed Matt Kuchar at 28/1 on Thursday morning so if he wins, don’t expect me into work tomorrow.
It’s not looking likely though. Kuch and playing partner Martin Kaymer have just teed off with a pair of bogey fives on the opening hole.
By the looks of the early scores, it’s going to be an evening of damage limitation for everybody out there. Anybody care to guess at what the winning score will be?
22.21 – That’s a bogey-bogey start for Tiger and it’s going to be a long way back from here. He gets his bunker shot to about seven or eight feet but pulls the putt just to the right of the cup. Woods +6 (2)
On Sky Sports, Butch Harmon points out that these cups aren’t too forgiving when it comes to putts sneaking in the side door — it’s straight down the middle or nothing.
22.26 – HERE’S BEAU: One of the success stories of this year’s US Open, 17-year-old amateur Beau Hossler, has just teed off on the first alongside Jason Dufner.
I think it’s just hit me that I will never be a professional golfer. If this liveblog takes a turn for the worse, I apologise.
22.45 – As we get closer to G-Mac’s tee time at 23:10, I have a confession to make — the last time I was stuck on the stroke-by-stroke coverage of the final day of a major was last year’s Masters. I’ve never forgiven myself for what happened to Rory that evening so I’m hoping that it was nothing to do with me. Let’s be honest, staying up until 4am isn’t going to be half as much fun if G-Mac pulls a Tiger and is four-over through three holes.
22.52 – Beau Hossler dumped his approach to the second into the bunker at the front of the green but he plays an absolute peach from the sand to leave himself with a five-foot save… which he nails. Par-par start and Beau’s flying start continues. I’m liking this kid’s moxy.
Dufner has what looks like an easier putt to save his own par but it pulls left. Hossler +3, Dufner +4 (2)
22.56 – Good evening Michael Thompson! While everybody else is dropping shots to beat the band, he’s birdied five and seven now to move to three-over. Thompson +3 (7)
23.03 – Lee Westwood — 0 for 56 in major championships — stands on the first tee box. “LEEEEEEEEEEEEE” doesn’t quite have the same ring as “LUUUUUUUKE” or “KUUUUUUUCH” but the crowd give it their best shot anyway. He gets his round underway by finding the rough off to the left of the fairway. Playing partner Freddy Jacobson stripes it straight down the middle.
That is our penultimate group. Next up: G-Mac and Jim Furyk.
23.20 – Big Ernie Els continues his solid start — that’s par-par for the South African now as he rolls in on the second green. Els +2 (2)
Back on one, Furyk’s approach from the rough has zipped off these super-fast greens and out the back. McDowell pitches up towards the front but by the time the ball has stopped, it’s a yard or two off the back. Definitely possible to get it up and down from there.
23.30 – Lee Westwood’s not letting this one go without a fight. After that brilliant approach to the second green, he slides in his birdie putt from about eight feet. Freddie Jacobson misses his for par and that’s a two-shot swing between the pair. They’re tied for third now, three shots off the lead on two-over. Westwood, Jacobson +2 (2)
23.34 – The pin position on two is a nasty one, tucked all the way up in the right which leaves little margin for error, but McDowell attacks with a nine-iron and gets it spot on, leaving himself about 10 foot from the hole.
Furyk takes a club more and pitches his eight-iron to the centre of the green but it catches the wrong slope and rolls away to the left. He’ll have two putts from about 50 feet to save his par and stay at -1.
23.37 – As we wait for Graeme and Jimmy to make their way up to the second green, a quick check in with Tiger… and it’s not good. He’s now six-over through six holes, +10 overall. What a collapse. Woods +10 (6)
And as I type, Harrington pours one down the hill at eight for a birdie two. Attaboy, that’s back-to-back birds. Harrington +5 (8)
23.48 – “If Graeme’s going to win this championship, he’s going to have to beat Jim Furyk because Furyk’s not beating himself,” Colin Montgomerie notes as Furyk rolls his birdie putt at the third to within a couple of feet.
McDowell is putting from the fringe and, uh oh, he’s gone about 12 foot past. That one absolutely flew by the hole and he’ll need a big putt to save par here.
0.00 – After blinking first, McDowell finds the heart of the fourth green in two shots. The only problem is that the machine masquerading as Jim Furyk has given himself another excellent birdie chance from about eight feet. Does this guy ever make a mistake?
0.06 – McDowell lags his birdie putt to within a couple of feet which gives Furyk a chance to open up a two-shot lead. His putt looks good but it slides left and we can all breathe again.
“Criminal miss from Furyk,” writes Neil Cullen. “He makes that, you hand him the trophy.” Furyk -1, McDowell E (4)
0.19 – “How do ya get a golf ball stuck up a tree?” asks Darren Skelton. “Takes some doing.”
It does — but Westwood’s not the first to do it on the fifth and he won’t be the last. He’s done alright with the second ball though and “saved” a double-bogey six. Jacobson drops a shot as well and, just like that, John Senden is the last man left standing on +2. Jacobson +3, Westwood +4 (5)
0.25 – For the first time tonight, I get the feeling we might be in a little bit of trouble. McDowell and Furyk both ping the ball around the fifth green until they have par putts along relatively similar lines. McDowell goes first and watches it just slip by to the right. That gives Furyk the line though and he makes no mistake. Because he’s a machine. A machine that now leads by two strokes. Furyk -1, McDowell +1 (5)
0.32 – For all you Harrington lovers out there — who isn’t, let’s be fair — he’s followed his birdie-birdie-birdie stint with a par-par-par run. Lovely stuff and he’s still in a tie for ninth place, +4 through 12 holes.
0.50 – This is getting very interesting indeed. Here’s how the leaderboard looks:
- Evs: Furyk (6)
- +2: McDowell (6), Els (8), Simpson (8), Peterson (11), Thompson (16)
- +3: Senden (8), Jacobson (7), Harrington (13)
1.12 – Just in case — like me — you were wondering where the hell Webb Simpson came from, he’s only taken five putts in the last five holes and four of those have been for birdie. He has a tricky par putt at 11… but he nails it, because he’s a boss. Simpson +1 (11)
1.20 – DEJA VU: Remember John Peterson’s hole-in-one on 13 yesterday? Well, he very nearly did it again, this time on 15. The ball pitches right up at the cup but hops on by.
1.27 – Simpson and Peterson both have birdie putts. Both miss so they’ll stay on +1 and +2 respectively.
1.34 – It’s a pair of pars for Furyk and McDowell on 10 but hang on a second, over on 17, Padraig Harrington has just played a magnificent bunker shot from an awful, awful lie. It looked like he had blown his chance but he’ll have a birdie putt to move on to +2, two off Furyk.
1.52 – IT’S ALL OVER: For John Peterson anyway. He takes a double-bogey seven at the 16th and that’s curtains.
And it looks like it might be all over for Harrington as well. He manages to get his ball out of the bunker on 18 but the best he can do is leave it in the greenside rough over the far side of the green.
2.00 – Webb Simpson is leaving a few shots out there. On 15, he has an putt that you’d back him to make all day but he pushes it left.
2.27 – LOST IN THE LONG GRASS: McDowell’s second actually ended up in the long grass at the front of the green, rather than the bunker. He doesn’t quite keep the club face open enough as he tries to pop it out and it’s miles and miles away from the hole. Furyk paces his putt perfectly and looks certain to make par.
2.36 – For those of you wondering about the fate of 17-year-old amateur Beau Hossler, he dropped three shots in his last three holes to finish the day with a six-over round of 76. He finishes on nine-over for the tournament, missing out on the low amateur prize by two shots to Jordan Speith.
2.47 – Webb Simpson is over in Padraig Harrington territory off the side of the 18th green. It looks like his ball is sitting up on an old sprinkler head but he’s not getting any relief. He needs an up-and-down here to get into the clubhouse on +1.
If he makes bogey and gets in on +2 alongside Michael Thompson, how sick will Padraig Harrington be? In his post-round interview, he said that he was confident he needed to get in on +1 to have any chance of even making a playoff and that’s why he went so aggressively at 18 — ultimately taking a bogey and dropping back to +3.
2.50 – SIMPSON TAKES THE CLUBHOUSE LEAD, +1: Simpson’s chip into 18 is exactly what he needed, leaving a four-footer for par and the outright lead in the clubhouse… and he makes it. With Furyk in trouble on 16, could that be enough for the win? Or are we coming back tomorrow for an 18-hole playoff?
3.00 – Furyk makes his putt for a bogey six as does McDowell for his par five. It looks like the end of the road for G-Mac but it might just be the beginning for Webb Simpson. The maths are simple: two holes to play; Furyk needs a birdie, G-Mac needs two. Otherwise, Webb is the winner.
Simpson +1 (68), Furyk +2 (16), McDowell +3 (16)
3.32 – McDowell’s putt never troubles the hole and that’s it, Webb Simpson is your US Open champion for 2012. He wins by a shot from the Portrush man while Furyk putts out for a 74 which sees him finish in a tie for third on +3.
It’s only Simpson’s third PGA Tour win and — needless to say — his first major. What a moment for the 26-year-old from North Carolina. He started the day four shots off the lead but now, at 3.30am Irish time, he is the 112th US Open champion.