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U.S. Open: The good, the bad, and the Bird Man

Taking a last look at what happened – and didn’t happen – at the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club:

The Good

•  Webb Simpson. He didn’t lead the field in greens hit in regulation (58.3 percent), fairways in regulation (55.3) or birdies (13). But he made putts when he needed them, and that wins U.S. Opens.

Simpson’s string of six straight one-putt greens midway through the final round proved to be the point of separation.

•  Beau Hossler. He didn’t finish as low amateur – Jordan Spieth got that medal – but Hossler became a crowd favorite with his play and his demeanor. He seemed unaffected by virtually everything. He’s headed to Texas in another year. A guy named “Hoss” playing for the Longhorns. Perfect.

•  American golf. It wasn’t long ago this fall’s Ryder Cup matches had practically been conceded to the Europeans. Six straight majors had been won by players from the other side of the Atlantic, Tiger was down, Phil was struggling and it was easy to hear European fans practicing their “Ole, Ole” cheers for Medinah.

Now the Americans have won three straight majors – Keegan Bradley, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson – and Matt Kuchar won The Players Championship. No wonder U.S. captain Davis Love III was smiling Sunday afternoon.

•  Lee Westwood’s attitude. He’s tortured in majors like few others have been. His chances at Olympic died when his tee shot at the fifth hole lodged in a Monterey cypress, a tree that eats golf balls the way kids eat candy. He looked like a bird watcher when he grabbed binoculars and tried to identify his ball in the tree.

Still, he handled it beautifully. Climbing the huge staircase from the 18th green to the clubhouse Sunday after another disappointment, Westwood turned to his manager, Chubby Chandler, who was struggling up the steps behind him and said, “Pretend I’m wearing a short skirt.”

•  The Olympic Club. It was hard but players had no major complaints. There’s already talk the U.S. Open may come back in another 10 years or so.

The Bad

•  Jim Furyk’s finish. He missed the last five fairways in the final round, leading to a pair of bogeys that doomed his chances for a second Open.

Pro golfers are creatures of habit and Furyk admitted he was flustered when he reached the par-5 16th hole and found the tee had been moved up 95 yards from where it had played earlier in the tournament. He wasn’t prepared for that and said he couldn’t get comfortable with the shot he wanted to hit. He wound up snap-hooking his tee shot into trouble, the beginning of his end.

•  Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy. Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, flamed out on Thursday and couldn’t save themselves on Friday.

Donald seemed to try too hard and suddenly there are questions about McIlroy’s focus. While both were huge disappointments, there’s no reason for panic in either camp.

•  Tiger Woods’ weekend. Perhaps the best that can be said about Tiger Woods’ weekend is he scored better than Phil Mickelson.

When he needed it most, Woods couldn’t hit fairways and couldn’t make putts. He became just another guy trying to win and failing.

•  The Bird Man. The clown wearing a Union Jack hat and crowing like a bird who disrupted the trophy presentation Sunday evening was last seen being escorted away on a golf cart wearing a bracelet of handcuffs.

Credit to Webb Simpson for his quick reaction – “Enjoy the jail cell, pal,” – and to USGA executive director Mike Davis, who went middle linebacker on the guy.