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PGA Tour Confidential: Webb Simpson wins the U.S. Open by one shot

Webb Simpson, Final round, 2012 U.S. Open
Fred Vuich / SI
Webb Simpson shot a 68 on Sunday to win the U.S. Open by one stroke.

Every Sunday night, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

Gorant: After an impressive 2011, Webb Simpson dropped out of the SI top 10 weeks ago, missed his last two cuts and seemed to be fading a bit. Even in this Open, he was never a real part of the storyline until the back nine on Sunday. So, is Simpson's win a surprise? And in a larger sense, did the best player win?

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: He was more of a last man standing. He earned the win with a 68-68 weekend, but I think this Open will be remembered for the collapses of Woods, Furyk and McDowell.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: The U.S. Open has always been about survival. Hang around, hole a couple of big putts, wait for others to make mistakes. It's how McDowell won just two years ago.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Right. It's always a battle of attrition. Webb outlasted the field while everyone else was falling down. That up-and-down on 18 was major-championship worthy. Webb nearly won Player of the Year last year. He has the goods.

Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: It's a mild surprise, but Simpson is one of the uber-talented new kids on the block, and it seems like this pack of newbies -- not one stud like Tiger or Phil -- will dominate the game for a while.

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, It's a surprise he won this week, but Webb's a guy most of us have tabbed to win a major at some point in his career. He was the only player to shoot two under-par rounds on the weekend. Even though we didn't see him coming until late in the event, he's a deserving champion.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I thought of Webb when I tried to think who might be this era's Lee Janzen.

Lipsey: Webb could be better, much better, than Janzen. Webb has more power, an extra gear.

Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: I'm happy for Simpson, who comes across as a good guy and is a deserving champion, but let's be honest -- you're not going to be telling your grandchildren about the 2012 U.S. Open.

Godich: And you would have if Furyk or McDowell had won?

David Dusek, deputy editor, Of course Webb Simpson's win is a surprise. He was a walking ATM last year but hadn't done a lot in 2012. No one picked him to win the U.S. Open. Some people wrote that this tournament was Tiger's after 18 holes, but the talent pool is too deep, and the game is too crazy, for it to be over on Thursday night.

Garrity: I regard the player with the lowest score after four rounds as the best player, so Webb's definitely the guy. But there will always be doubters when you bag your first major sitting on a bench next to your beautiful wife. Furyk and McDowell had to play those final holes under much greater pressure.

Godich: I don't know about that, John. You don't think Simpson knew the guys behind him had a couple of birdie holes to play coming in? And you don't think he felt any pressure to get up and down on 18? Plus, Furyk and McDowell have won an Open. There's more pressure on the guy who hadn't, especially in just his second Open start.

Wei: I think it's much less pressure coming from behind with nothing to lose. When you're in the final group, expectations are greater. It was much less pressure to finish a few groups earlier and post a score, a la Michael Thompson, David Toms and obviously Webb.

Morfit: Webb did say it worked to his advantage to fly under the radar. His caddie, Paul Tesori, also forbade him from looking at leaderboards.

Godich: Simpson felt every bit as much pressure as the other two. In fact, I would argue that he felt even more pressure. The other two had already won majors. The game is littered with players who came close to winning a major but never did.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Did Simpson surprise you this week? Did the best man win?

Gorant: Simpson is now the third American in a row to win a major. Any larger implications, or is this just another one of those natural cycles that come and go? Does it mean anything for the Ryder Cup?

Lipsey: The Ryder Cup got a great jolt, with so many Euros and Americans on the leaderboard.

Herre: More evidence that the balance of power is shifting back to the U.S.

Garrity: I'm with Jim. This is a definite trend.

Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, It makes Pete Cowen, Westwood's coach, look even more ridiculous for saying that Europe's B-team could win the Cup.

Wei: Match play is different, though, and the Europeans do seem to fare better in that format.

Morfit: There are so many good players flying in from all corners of the globe, I'm not so sure where the balance of power is anymore.

Godich: Davis Love III has to be feeling really good about the way his team is shaping up. He's going to have a nice mix of youth and experience.

Dusek: I think it's a reflection of how many good players there are now, both Americans and Euros. That's nine majors in a row that have been won by first time major winners. That said, the United States team won't be a prohibitive underdog in the Ryder Cup. The Americans have had a great PGA Tour season and captured both majors so far. Even with Luke, Rory, Westy, and Graeme on the European team, it's going to be tight.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Is American golf on the rise?

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