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McDowell hangs on to win U.S. Open

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell captured the 110th U.S. Open and won his first major Sunday afternoon, shooting a 3-over par 74 to finish at even par 284 for the tournament.

McDowell, whose highest finish in a U.S. Open was a T-18 last year at Bethpage Black, began the day at 3-under par and three shots behind leader Dustin Johnson, who turned in an epic collapse to finish in a tie for eighth place.

Heading to the 18th hole with a one-shot lead over Frenchman Gregory Havret, who finished second at 1-over for the tournament, the 30-year-old McDowell left a 30-foot birdie putt just short, then tapped in to become the first European to win the U.S. Open since 1970.

Ernie Els finished third at 2-over, followed by Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, who tied for fourth place at 3-over.

Johnson began the day atop the leaderboard at 6-under, owning a three-stroke lead over McDowell before immediately squandering it.

Poised to become the new prince of Pebble Beach after winning PGA Tour events here over the past two years, Johnson shot an 11-over 82 Sunday and finished 5-over for the tournmanet. He imploded early, carding a triple-bogey on No. 2, a double-bogey on No. 3 and a bogey on No. 4.

Meanwhile, the tournament may have marked the last U.S. Open for Tom Watston.

After Watson sank his final putt Friday afternoon, the elder statesman of golf took a bow, doffed his cap and basked in the applause emanating from the grandstands that towered over the 18th green at Pebble Beach.

Was this his final farewell at the U.S. Open?

Everyone knew the stakes at the time, thanks to the leaderboard casting a long shadow over the green and Watson's chances of making the cut. He needed to sink his four-footer to finish the round at even-par and put himself within 10 strokes of the lead, then hope the top score would hold in order to have another tee time on the course that helped etch his fame.

Watson, who hadn't competed in the U.S. Open since 2003 but received a special exemption this year, became the only player to appear in all five Opens at Pebble Beach, where he teed off in his first major in 1972 and famously won the championship a decade later.

His improbable birdie chip from the long grass on No. 17 propelled him to victory over Jack Nicklaus in 1982, and it remains one of the greatest shots in golf history. A smiling, baby-faced Watson running around the green and enthusiastically pointing at his caddy also left an indelible mark on fans, many of them reliving the moment with Watson as they snapped his picture during last week's practice rounds.

- by Matt Gagne,DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER / Image by AP


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