SAN FRANCISCO – A 24-foot putt stood between Graeme McDowell and history. He had made so many clutch putts over the last two years that there was a type of Northern California anticipation that this one was destined for the bottom of the cup, that we were headed to a Monday playoff to determine the U.S. Open.
McDowell had drained key putts to win this championship two years ago at Pebble Beach. Ditto several months later in the Ryder Cup, where he clinched the Cup for Europe in Wales. Several months after that he went head-to-head with Tiger Woods at the Chevron Challenge and beat him in a playoff. He has a knack for performing under pressure.
But this time the putt didn’t drop. McDowell made birdie on the 17th hole to get within a shot of Webb Simpson and was standing over the birdie putt on 18 with a chance to tie. But he missed, and shot 73 to tie for second place with Michael Thompson, who had finished more than an hour earlier.
“There’s a mixture of emotions inside me right now,” McDowell said. “Obviously disappointment, deflation, pride. But mostly just frustration.”
McDowell has entered the U.S. Open completely off the radar after missed cuts in three of his last four events. That he was in contention was a bit of a surprise. Still after three days he was the co-leader with Jim Furyk and had a chance to become the 22nd player to win multiple U.S. Opens. It wasn’t meant to be this year.
“Today has reinforced to me that I can compete and win more major championships,” McDowell said. “It's been a frustrating five or six weeks for me, but I it knew in my heart that my game was better than my results were showing and it was just great to come in this week, prepare, put it up there as a major championship, try my best and compete.”