With Adam Scott not playing this week – he was too busy eating breakfast cereal in his green jacket; working out in his green jacket; going grocery shopping in his green jacket; making ladies swoon in his green jacket – the storyline in golf shifted to a tenacious winner from Northern Ireland, an Ulsterman with major championship swagger who surprised no one with his victory at Harbour Town.
Yes, Graeme McDowell now has more wins on the US PGA Tour in 2013 than that other kid from his country. What's his name? Maury? Oh, Rory? Sorry about that.
Hey, now. Just a little golf humour to perk up your post-Masters hangover. You know we love Rory McIlroy's game here. A little locker room towel-snap from this slice of cyber space may just be the thing to get him going, right?
In the meantime, it's all about the other Northern Irishman – the one who preceded both Rory and countryman Darren Clarke to the major championship win circle when he won the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach in true Graeme McDowell style. In other words: tough, unglamorous, admirable golf.
It was no surprise that the only player left standing at Harbour Town with McDowell was a fellow US Open champion, the reigning national title-holder Webb Simpson. In fact, Simpson's US Open at Olympic Club was only sealed when McDowell himself missed a birdie try on the 72nd hole in San Francisco. So these two dudes know each other, and these two dudes were just the guys to handle Harbour Town's lethal cocktail of gale-force winds and Sunday pressure. You don't win a US Open unless you're the guy who embraces adversity on a golf course. Harbour Town on Sunday, thy name was adversity.
I mean, did you see those leaden skies and fierce gusts? Yo, Harbour Town. The Open called. It wants its wind back. I was thinking of leading the column with an original line – "It was a dark and stormy night" – but didn't want to be sued for plagiarism by Snoopy.
How windy was it? You couldn't tell which was more tussled – third-round leader Charley Hoffman's game (final-round 77) or his Spicoli-like hair (final-round mess).
For McDowell, the Sunday 69 in the difficult conditions reminded us of the kind of conviction with which the 33-year-old plays. Whether it's a Ryder Cup-clinching match in 2010, or two monster putts in Tiger Woods' face at Tiger's Chevron World Challenge in 2010, or a 6-iron from 165 yards struck to 15 feet on the windy 18th hole in the playoff at Harbour Town on Sunday, the man who everyone calls one of the sweetest gentlemen on Tour can be a stone-cold killer if he has to.
Always the sportsman, he watched Webb Simpson's par putt slide past the hole, and grimaced instead of celebrated. He slapped Simpson on the back and told him, in that Northern Irish accent: "You hit a better putt than it showed." Of course, that doesn't mean McDowell feels so bad for Simpson he won't celebrate his win with Guinness-soaked gusto. Heck, he might do so at his new restaurant he just opened in Orlando, a place so hip that Nick Faldo name-checked it on CBS, then followed it up with a plea for a free meal at the joint. I will leave that to the rest of you to ponder.
McDowell's win was a fun way for all of us to ease back in after all that Masters drama. After all, Scott won't play again until the Players Championship in May, and Angel Cabrera wasn't even in the Northern Hemisphere. Tiger's off for a while, as is Rory.
So why not enjoy a player who is best on the PGA Tour in scrambling, one of the most accurate drivers of the golf ball out there and a player who scores his golf ball time and time again – tie-3rd at Doral, quarterfinals of the WGC Match Play, tie-5th at last year's Open. He missed the cut at the Masters last week, but that's not a place that suits his game as much as a US Open.
In fact, the USGA's annual shindig is less than two months away, at a ballstriker's paradise, Merion Golf Club. Just suggesting, is all.
Brian Murphy - Yahoo! US