Webb Simpson’s U.S. Open win may not have been easy, but he certainly made it look that way. After bogeys on holes two and five had him at five over par, Simpson put together three straight birdies and contributed one more on the tenth to bring him down to one over par. From that point on it was smooth sailing as Simpson hit green after green in regulation and left himself short par putts on almost every hole. In the end, Simpson needed a little help to avoid an 18 hole Monday playoff, as McDowell and Furyk both had chances to tie it up with birdies on 18. However, Furyk’s birdie chip from the greenside bunker proved to be disastrous, finding another greenside bunker, and McDowell’s long birdie putt never had a chance, making Webb Simpson the champion of the 112th U.S. Open. Webb Simpson’s first Major victory gives James the third Major of his career, and 17th overall win, and vaults Simpson up to 350 points for the season. As always, there were players who faded on Sunday, the most notable of them being Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood, but we’ll get to that later. Other than James reclaiming first place, the story of the week for the league was that of missed opportunities. Many teams had a chance to get their first Major victory, and an incredible four top tens were left on the bench this week. Let’s take a closer look at how the 112th U.S. Open played out. This is the wrap up…
First place is certainly a familiar place for James, and it feels good to be back on top. James’ 265 points is the most in a week since Dave’s epic Masters win, and James’ highest total of the season. The win by Webb Simpson gives James 6 wins so far this season, well on pace to break the record of most wins in a single season that he shares with Cody. It also gives him 17 career wins, more than twice as many as any other league member. Webb Simpson’s 200 points was complimented well by Jason Dufner’s top five, the stoic Auburn graduate’s fourth such top five in his last five starts. If there was any doubt that Dufner is the hottest player on the planet right now, it was certainly erased by the fact that he is averaging 63 points over those five starts. Unfortunately, that is where the positives ended for James this week. There were seven goose eggs on his roster, including missed cuts from Rory McIlroy and Louis Oosthuizen, and a T65 finish from an Osicki’d Phil Mickelson. While this week’s two top fives show that James can perform well outside of tier one tournaments, Mickelson and McIlroy will need to find their game if he wants to capture the unprecedented three-peat.
The second most points this week belonged to Fuchs, who’s 175 points were just 25 less than his previous nine weeks combined. The bulk of Fuchs’ points this week came from Graeme McDowell, who was just inches from having a shot at the win. McDowell is quietly averaging a solid 25 points per start this year, and finished inside the top fifteen at the Masters as well. Along with Alvaro Quiros, Martin Kaymer has made the least starts of any golfer not named Miguel Angel Jimenez, with just five starts in 23 weeks. Fortunately for Fuchs, Kaymer is averaging 26 points per week in those five starts, so his top fifteen this week does not come as a surprise. What does come as a surprise is that Fuchs’ chose to play Quiros over John Senden, who has played well this season, and cashed in a top ten from the bench this week. Fuchs netted 15 more points from Robert Karlsson, who took Brandt Snedeker’s roster spot when he withdrew, and another 30 from an Osicki’d Hunter Mahan. Mahan’s two wins have been stellar, but aside from that he has been a mess so far this year, falling out of contention this week with bad rounds on Saturday and Sunday.
James gave Beast the worst possible Father’s Day present on Sunday, when he stole a victory right out from under Furyk’s nose, and stealing anything from under that nose is no easy task. Beast’s anger was on display Sunday evening as he kicked a line judge in the shin before settling down to watch some smooth jazz on TV. There is really no word to describe Furyk’s Sunday evening other than ‘choke’. Needing to play the final three holes in even par to force a playoff, Furyk bogeyed the sixteenth hole, and then couldn’t birdie 17 or 18, settling for a top five. The collapse down the stretch capped off a bad day for Beast, which also saw an Osicki’d Matt Kuchar shoot a 74 and fall out of the top 25. The good news for Beast was that Steve Stricker emerged from his slump, shooting 69 on Sunday to move up 17 places and finish in the top 15. Spencer Levin was Beast’s only started player to miss the cut, and while Bo Van Pelt made the cut on the number, he failed to do anything on the weekend, settling for a goose egg. While 130 points is never a bad score, with where his players sat coming into the final round, this is not the week that Beast was hoping for.
Even when he doesn’t do well, Dave still seems to always do well. With Lee Westwood in contention going into Sunday, Dave ordered 150 ‘Dave-slam’ shirts to distribute at his next gig. While the Dave-slam may be off for this year, a league championship is certainly still within reach. Westwood’s top ten this week gives him five top tens in eight starts this year, and he shows no signs of slowing down despite an unfortunate final round 73, which included a lost ball in a Cyprus tree. Justin Rose has also been excellent this year, and his 25 points this week give him 375 for the season. Even though Dave was four for five for players making the cut this week, Zach Johnson and Serigo Garcia could only card top fifties, the latter with a final round 75 that killed his chances for a top ten. Bubba Watson’s newly adopted son isn’t doing his golf game any favors, as it’s hard to imagine the new father being able to focus as much as he needs to to contend.
Next up we have Brent. The young Jon Hendricks protege won’t be complaining about his score this week, as K.J. Choi and Adam Scott needed rounds of 69 and 70 respectively to back door their way into a tie for 15th. Choi actually played the first six holes in one under par on Sunday, and had he not double bogeyed the 13th, he could have found himself in the top ten. Coming into the tournament, Brent’s Osicki Explosion on Rickie Fowler looked like it could earn him big points, but Fowler’s second round 76 killed his chances and a good weekend still only gave him a share of 41st. Brent’s tier three and four specialist Peter Hanson shot himself out of the tournament on Thursday with a disastrous 78 and never recovered, missing the cut. However the biggest disappointment for Brent this week was undoubtedly the missed cut by Luke Donald. While he’s performed under the spotlight before, winning tournaments like the Accenture Match-Play Championship and the BMW PGA Championship, he just can’t seem to string together four good rounds in a Major Championship. For Donald to win a Major would be a huge boost to Brent’s chances of hoisting the League Championship.
The fact that Bryce scored the second fewest points this week is ridiculous. Just when everything was starting to go right for the league’s resident nice-guy, everything went wrong. After winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic, Dustin Johnson was one of the favorites to have a great week at Olympic, but missed the cut by one stroke and resulted in a wasted Osicki. Coming into the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods career record when he has at least a share of the lead after 36 holes was 8-1. Just when it looked like Bryce would win an unprecedented three weeks in a row, Tiger showed just how far he truly is from his former glory, with a Saturday 75 and a Sunday round where he was six over par through the first six holes. While he managed to recover three of those strokes and post a 73, the damage was done and he had to settle for a top 25. Had Ernie Els not bogeyed the 72nd hole, he would have managed a top five, but did contribute fifty points and a top ten to the cause. The real killer for Bryce this week was the matching top fives that he left on his bench from Padraig Harrington and David Toms. Had those points been used instead of the missed cuts from Bill Haas and Martin Laird, Bryce would have passed both Fuchs and Brent. It will be interesting to see if Bryce can continue his charge back up the leaderboard after this setback.
Finally we come to Lawrence. It’s never easy to see someone you owned earning points for another team, but that’s what Lawrence has had to put up with over the past nine weeks. While Webb Simpson and Rickie Fowler have earned a ridiculous 530 points for their respective owners over that time period, the players that Lawrence has replaced them with have managed just 40. While you don’t want to dwell on the past, it’s difficult for Lawrence to look towards the future when he earned just 30 points this week, by far the lowest total of anyone in the league. Carl Pettersson and Keegan Bradley continued their slumps, both failing to score at all, while Miguel Angel Jimenez did the same in his first start since the Masters. Kevin Na and Ian Poulter both finished out of contention but in the top fifty to earn 15 points a piece. Making matters worse for Lawrence, the 75 points that Nick Watney and the Iron Goose managed to score were left on the bench, a total higher than Lawrence’s team output from the last four weeks combined. Lawrence’s team is sorely lacking firepower right now, and the best we can hope for is that he remedies that with his two first round draft picks next year.
That’s the wrap up for the 112th U.S. Open at the Olympic Club. I hope you enjoyed the tournament. Next week will be the Travelers Championship. We’ll see you then!