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McDowell dodges drama to seize US Open trophy

Graeme McDowell was the last man standing at Pebble Beach on Sunday, hoisting a US Open trophy that was a testament to nerve and “knuckling down”.

“I really stuck to my plan, which was to stay patient, stay calm, and really put some nice calm swings on it and not get sucked in by what the rest of the guys were doing,” McDowell said. “I did that for about 10 holes.

“I bogeyed nine and 10, didn’t hit a good drive on 11, looked up at the leaderboard and really sort of knuckled down at that point.

“I was actually really proud of myself.”

McDowell, who started the day in second place three shots off the lead, had plenty to be proud of.

His closing par to seal the victory — after runner-up Gregory Havret of France failed to birdie the last — was a fitting end to his effort.

“I had an opportunity to go for 18 in two but made the decision not to do that when he didn’t make four,” McDowell said. “It was a nice, easy five in the end which was thankfully no drama.”

Instead the drama raged all around him — most spectacularly playing partner Dustin Johnson’s triple-bogey at the second hole that erased the American’s three-shot lead.

Johnson followed up with a double-bogey and a bogey en route to an 82.

Tiger Woods had four bogeys in his first eight holes. Ernie Els hit his tee shot over the cliff at the 10th on his way to a double-bogey.

Phil Mickelson avoided a big disaster, but after starting the day seven back, even his little mishaps were too costly.

Mickelson drove the par-four fourth, but three-putted from 15 feet. He played an odd shot off some electrical wires.

Mickelson said he knew during the round that he needed to make some birdies or shoot under par to win.

McDowell, however, resisted any urge to be a hero — and became one.

“I promised myself I was going to stay calm and be tough over the weekend,” he said. “I was proud of myself the way I stayed calm today.”

McDowell who claimed his first major title in his 19th major championship appearance seemed stunned to join the list of illustrious golfers who have won the US Open at Pebble Beach.

“To win at Pebble Beach, to join the names Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Tiger Woods … me,” he said, drawing a laugh. “I’m not quite sure if I belong in that list, but, hey, I’m there now.” — AFP

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