Michael Campbell clinches dramatic victory
New Zealand's Michael Campbell held off a charging Tiger Woods to clinch his maiden major title by two shots at the 105th U.S. Open on Sunday.
The 36-year-old Campbell, four off the pace overnight, collected four birdies and three bogeys to close with a one-under-par 69 in difficult, breezy conditions at Pinehurst's No.2 course.
Despite dropping two shots in the last three holes, he finished on a level 280 to become the first Kiwi to win a major title since left-hander Bob Charles took the British Open at Royal Lytham 42 years ago.
"I've had to work very hard for this with plenty of ups and downs throughout my career, but this is well worth the work," an emotional Campbell told reporters. "It's just unbelievable.
"This is what I've practised for. This is going to change my whole career.
"I can't believe I'm holding this trophy," added the New Zealander, the first come-from-behind winner at a U.S. Open since American Lee Janzen overhauled a five-stroke deficit at Olympic in 1998.
U.S. Masters champion Woods, who had been chasing his 10th career major, rallied from a bogey-bogey start and reeled off four birdies in the last nine holes to secure second place with a matching, best-of-the-day 69.
However, his bid to match Ben Hogan as the only player to win the first two majors of the year on two occasions was dashed when he missed an eight-footer for par on 16 and three-putted for bogey on 17.
"If I had putted normally, I would be looking a lot better right now," said a rueful Woods, whose 69 was one of just four achieved on the day. "I played well today, I just did not putt well. I didn't putt well the entire week.
"I figured if I could just get to even par I might be able to get into a playoff. Unfortunately, I made those two bogeys on 16 and 17 and that kind of put me out of that equation."
Campbell, who had to pre-qualify to book his place at Pinehurst, holed a 12-foot birdie putt at the first, dropped his first shot of the day at the par-four eighth and then sank a 30-footer for birdie at the par-five 10th to forge two clear.
Although he ended up bogeying the treacherous 16th and also the final hole, he effectively closed the door on Woods's challenge by holing a 25-foot birdie putt at the par-three 17th.
"When I stuck the birdie putt on 17, it was a turning point," Campbell said. "I knew Tiger had bogeyed 17 so there was a two-shot swing right there.
"So I had a three-shot lead going to the last and I thought to myself: 'just keep your focus, keep your focus'. And it worked."
Spaniard Sergio Garcia and South Africa's Tim Clark both carded 70s to tie for third at five over, level with Australia's Mark Hensby who registered a 74.
South Africa's Retief Goosen, three strokes clear overnight, threw away his chance of a third U.S. Open title by dropping six shots in the first nine holes.
Five more bogeys after the turn led to a dismal 81 and a share of 11th place at eight-over 288.
"I got off to a bad start and from there on it pretty much went downhill the whole way," said Goosen, U.S. Open champion at Southern Hills in 2001 and again at Shinnecock Hills last year.
"I played rubbish at the end of the day. There is nothing else to say."
The world number five ran into early trouble at the second where he overshot the green with his approach and then chipped the ball back over the front side with his third.
Unable to get up and down from there for a bogey-five, he slipped to one under for the tournament before a three-putt at the third dropped him further to level.
After bogeying the par-four fifth, where he pulled his tee shot into the left rough, he dropped further shots on six and nine after missing relatively short putts before his struggles continued on the back nine.
He was in good company, though, as most of the field struggled on Pinehurst's tight fairways and humpbacked greens.
American qualifiers Jason Gore and Olin Browne, who started the day three strokes off the lead, both imploded.
Gore ballooned to a 14-over 84 to tie for 49th while Browne returned an 80 for a share of 23rd.
Twice champion Ernie Els fired his lowest score of the week, a level-par 70 earning him a share of 15th at nine-over 289 while Phil Mickelson, winner of last year's U.S. Masters, returned a 74 to finish at 12 over in a tie for 33rd.