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PGA Tour Confidential: McDowell wins U.S. Open as Tiger, Phil come up short

Graeme McDowell
Kohjiro Kinno/SI
Graeme McDowell closed with a 3-over 74 to become the first European in 40 years to capture the U.S. Open.

Every week of the 2010 PGA Tour season, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in on Mondays for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Tiger Woods . . . Graeme McDowell? Okay, we're all a little surprised that the older and less-glamorous pro from Northern Ireland has added his name to the illustrious list of U.S. Open winners at the Pebble Beach Golf Links. But McDowell just kept plugging away today while future Hall of Famers flamed out all around him. But I wonder: Will we remember a single shot that McDowell hit this week. Or will this be an Open remembered for the misadventures of Tiger, Phil and Ernie?

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Doubt we'll remember a shot. This Open might be remembered as the last shot at a major for Els and Love, and for Dustin Johnson's brutal 82.

Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: I remember McDowell holing a lot of putts, but not much else. Seemed like nobody wanted to win.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I had a feeling this Open was going to be won by someone we weren't expecting. Tiger just isn't playing well enough to put two good rounds together, much less four, and Phil is hard to bet on outside Augusta. Seems like Ernie took it the hardest of all the big names. He just blew through the flash area, too peeved for post-round quotes.

David Dusek, deputy editor, There really wasn't a signature shot that I recall, but there was a lot of solid putting and grinding pars. In other words, U.S. Open golf.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I'll remember Tiger and Phil's flameouts, but also McDowell's marvelous comeback on Saturday's back nine. He fought back to shoot 71 after a bad start, and that gave him some good mojo going into Sunday's final round.

Morfit: I will not remember a single shot he hit, no. McDowell fits the mold of the plodder who often wins these things, and there was so much graphic calamity going on around him all day. This U.S. Open will be remembered for the hundreds of ways it was lost.

Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Fellow typists, Graeme McDowell is the 2010 U.S. Open Champion. Give the man his due! It can't be a great championship unless a favorite wins? We have this same conversation after every major not won by one of our hall of famers.

Dusek: It's a shame, but I have a feeling that Graeme's win is going to be looked upon like Geoff Ogilvy's U.S. Open win in 2006 at Winged Foot. He was the last man standing while the big names who were supposed to win imploded.

Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Nah. McDowell was in the driver's seat for most of the day. All those big names were chasing him and couldn't get it done. Big difference.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: The guy made two birdies in his last 34 holes and none after the fifth hole on Sunday. It was a survival contest.

Morfit: I'll remember Dustin Johnson's epic meltdown. It's not too often you see a pro come unraveled like that, even at a major. It was shocking, like Van de Velde but in slow-motion over several holes.

Evans: I think this Open will be remembered for the way this little course with the small greens beat the hell out of the best players in the world. Tiger, Phil and Ernie didn't deserve to win. Let's not put this headline on the tournament — THE LAST MAN STANDING — because Graeme McDowell played the most consistent golf this week.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The thing is, we don't know what Graeme McDowell's name will evoke a decade from now. If he turns into a Paul Lawrie, then of course there's not much luster there, but still he has his name on the trophy. But he could turn into Tony Jacklin, Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo. He's made a great first step here, and he could quit today and he would have done way more than most. I love his brio, his golfing intelligence and his devotion to the pub.

Garrity: Our third-round leader, Dustin Johnson, needed only four holes to hit for the cycle: par, triple-bogey, double-bogey, bogey. To what do you attribute his meltdown? Was it nerves, poor course management, or was he simply hurrying?

Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Johnson was freaked-out nervous. I bet he doesn't remember many of the gaffes; his mind was likely blanked out.

Godich: I was amazed at how quickly he played those shots at the second hole. He didn't even take a breath before the left-handed attempt. He sure made NBC look bad, after they had spent all of Saturday describing him as a flatliner. I guess that was true in a way they didn't intend.

Evans: That flatliner bit put out by D,J.'s caddie is a sad coda on his U.S. Open.

Lipsey: NBC went hog wild on Johnson and Woods, and gave short shrift to McDowell. It would've been nice to have seen an interview with his dad on the back nine. Dad was probably shaking nervous and would've been a nice spot.

Morfit: I agree with that, Rick. Where was the heartwarming interview with his pops? For a few minutes, at least, that would have been better to look at than Tiger and Phil and Ernie spinning their wheels.

Evans: Dustin Johnson was so nervous he couldn't pull the club back. The next time he's in this position he'll know how to compose himself better after a bad shot. He let it get out of hand within seconds of walking on the first tee.

Dusek: Seriously, where was his caddie? After your player implodes on the second hole, you need to conveniently lose the driver on three and hand him a 5-iron, a fairway wood, something that gets him in the fairway. Johnson needed to right the ship, not punch another hole in the leaking boat's hull.

Godich: If anyone threw this thing away, it was Ernie, especially after the way he started. The double at 10, the poor wedge at 14, the short missed birdie putt at 15, the poor second at the 18th. And he still finishes two shots back?

Gorant: I agree. More than any of the name players, Ernie had the trophy in his hands.

Lipsey: Still, it's nice to see that Els has rejoined the top ranks of major contenders. So many guys lose the grip and never get it back.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Ernie looked solid on the front nine, then he couldn't get it done on the back. He should be the most disappointed of the group. This was his great chance to win a third Open, and he let it slip.

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