Spander: McDowell the last man standing

The winner, of course, was the course, Pebble Beach. Graeme McDowell was the champion, the guy who finished first, but it was Pebble — tough, mystical Pebble — that proved the winner.

McDowell, from Northern Ireland, is the first European to take the U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin did it 40 years ago in 1970. But McDowell’s final score was even-par 284, and Sunday his final round was a 2-over 74.

A onetime student at University of Alabama-Birmingham, McDowell sighed, “I can’t believe how hard this golf course was.”

Ernie Els can believe it. He shot a 2-over 73. Phil Mickelson can believe it. He shot a 2-over 73. Tiger Woods can believe it. He shot a 4-over 75.

And most of all, poor Dustin Johnson can believe it. He shot an 11-over 82. Starting the day at 6-under and three ahead, he ended it at 5-over and five behind.

McDowell was one ahead of Gregory Havret, the Frenchman, who was at 285. Ernie Els finished third at 286, while Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson tied for fourth at 287.

Matt Kuchar shot a 68 and moved past numerous players into a tie for sixth with Davis Love III.

Shaun Micheel, who led the first round, holed a 3-iron from 239 yards on the par-5 6th for a two, a double eagle. But Micheel could do no better than a tie for 22nd at 292.

“I just can’t believe I’m standing here with this thing right now,” the 30-year-old McDowell said. “It’s an absolute dream come true. I’ve dreamed of this all my life, two putts to win the U.S. Open.”

In truth, Pebble Beach won the Open, McDowell merely finished first.

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