Each week, the GolfChannel.com team offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the most recent events and news developments. This week we learned that even Webb Simpson was surprised he won this year's U.S. Open. We also learned the name of a future major champion.
I learned that Webb Simpson has what it takes to win a major – and I learned that I’m not alone in figuring this out. Following his U.S. Open victory, even Simpson himself admitted, “If I was honest with you, I believed in myself I could win a major, but maybe not so soon.” Let’s face it: The third-year PGA Tour pro is really, really good – but winning a major championship requires more than talent.
In 107 previous starts, he owned 22 top-10s, including a pair of victories, but that’s hardly reason to believe he had the stuff to start claiming the big ones so quickly. He proved it this week, though, posting scores of 68-68 on the weekend to move up from a share of 29th place to the man collecting the hardware on Sunday evening. The performance surprised me that it came so early in his major career and it surprised him, too. Don’t expect either of us to be shocked when it happens again. – Jason Sobel
I learned that Jason Dufner is destined to become the next American major champion. He fits the mold perfectly. The last 15 major champions have all been different and in that span there have been six Americans, including the last three of Keegan Bradley, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. Dufner is every bit as accomplished as these players and he’s played better the last two months than anyone else in the world. He also went around The Olympic Club in even par over the weekend to gut out a fourth-place tie. I knew he had game, now I know he has major game. – Jay Coffin
I learned all the fretting over Tiger Woods’ ball striking and new swing is misplaced. His short game might now be all that’s holding him back from another major championship victory.
I watched Woods struggle with his chipping at the Honda Classic in March, when he chunked or fluffed a surprising number of chips through the first three rounds there. If Woods would have gotten up and down with more proficiency at PGA National, Rory McIlroy would have been chasing him that Sunday rather than the other way around. Three months later, Woods’ wedge play and short game still aren't sharp. He’s unable to wipe out mistakes the way he consistently did with his putter.
The shot making is coming along nicely, but the short game lags behind. Yeah, it’s harder getting up and down from U.S. Open rough, but Webb Simpson won this major getting up and down at the 18th hole on Sunday. He did it from nearly the same place Woods awkwardly stubbed a chip the day before.
Woods didn’t lead the PGA Tour in scoring all those years because he made so many more birdies than everyone else. He led by getting up and down from all over the place, by wiping out mistakes better than anyone in the game. – Randall Mell
I learned time waits for no man, and neither does the U.S. Golf Association. Jim Furyk, 42, had a chance to win his second U.S. Open on Sunday at The Olympic Club and lock up a plaque in the World Golf Hall of Fame. He struggled through the day, but remained in the lead until his undoing in the final three holes. That demise may have been precipitated, in part, by a pace-of-play warning from the USGA.
An official from the USGA warned the final group of Furyk and Graeme McDowell about their pace for a second time on the tee at the par-3 15th. Furyk made par there, but then snap-hooked his tee shot at the par-5 16th. It resulted in bogey. He failed to birdie the par-5 17th and found his demise in a greenside bunker at the short 18th.
Not to say Furyk was unable to shake off the gentle prod, but he may have been distracted from the task at hand. The episode may have opened the door for another deliberate player, Webb Simpson, to win the U.S. Open. – Ryan Ballengee
I learned that the U.S. Golf Association and executive director Mike Davis have discovered the delicate formula for treading the line between unfair and unquestionably entertaining. Following last year’s record scoring at Congressional many feared the USGA would retaliate at The Olympic Club, but despite an over-par winning score and plenty of tales of carnage, there were few, if any, cries from the rank and file that the course was over the top. It’s a tough trick, but the USGA has figured it out. - Rex Hoggard