Graveyard of champions

2012-06-22 00:00

WEBB Simpson, a 26-year-old from North Carolina playing in his second U.S. Open and only his fifth major, came from six shots behind the leaders to win on Sunday. His win was fully deserved after shooting two 68s in the final two rounds. Even in favourable conditions, the course proved to be extremely difficult, with all of the players finishing over par. The 156-strong field struggled, not least the top two ranked players in the world, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy. They both missed the cut along with other notables and past winners.

Tiger Woods was leading after 36 holes and in prime position for the weekend to push for his 15th Major title. He had managed the course well up to that point by playing conservatively and hitting mostly irons off the tees. It was a familiar situation, but he couldn’t take advantage of his lead and finished in a disappointing 21st place. It is four years since his last Major win and this collapse over the final two rounds is adding to the speculation whether Tiger Woods still has what it takes to win another major trophy. Unfortunately for Simpson, Tiger Woods’s collapse is a bigger story than him winning.

American Jim Furyk and Ulsterman Graeme McDowell, both previous winners of the U.S. Open, were on top of the leader-board on Saturday night and it was expected that that one of these two would win. However, on Sunday, Simpson made four birdies in five holes from the sixth hole. He parred the remaining eight and that allowed him to post a score of plus one as clubhouse leader. Furyk and McDowell could not avoid dropping shots.

Watching the best players on the planet struggling to make pars with very few opportunities for birdies is typical of the U.S. Open. Players were dropping shots in much the same way that Mr Average Golfer does every weekend at his local course.

So the statisticians can add two more names (Furyk and McDowell) to Olympic’s list of “Graveyard of Champions”. Ben Hogan in 1955, Arnold Palmer in 1966 and Tom Watson in 1987 were leaders after three rounds and didn’t finish up winning, but it’s not only that — they never won another Major championship.

From the 19th hole:

As we get older we sometimes begin to doubt our ability to make a difference. It is at these times that our hopes are boosted by the remarkable achievements of seniors who have found the courage to take on challenges that would make many of us falter.

Harold Schlumberg is such a person. This is what he had to say: “I’ve often been asked what I do since I retired. Well … I’m fortunate to have a chemical engineering background and one of the things I enjoy most is converting beer, wine and whisky into urine. It’s rewarding and fulfilling and it gives me a sense of relief. I do it every day and I really enjoy it.” Harold should be an inspiration to us all.

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