|Graeme McDowell, of Northern Ireland, reacts as he walks off the 18th hole during the fourth round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament Sunday, June 17, 2012, at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Webb Simpson won the tournament. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)|
Thompson grabs another runner-up finish at Olympic
SAN FRANCISCO—Michael Thompson settled for second place five years ago at The Olympic Club in the U.S. Amateur.
Sunday, he tied for second with Graeme McDowell at the U.S. Open -- only this time the consolation prize was worth $695,916.
"I knew from the beginning of the week, if I can just shoot right around 1 over every day I would be happy," said Thompson, who held a three-stroke lead after the first round. "I didn't expect at all to shoot under par. Then go out and shoot way under par on a U.S. Open is kind of unbelievable."
Thompson said having played Olympic's tight, twisting fairways under pressure back in 2007 made a huge difference.
"I think it helped me a ton," he said. "I learned to love the course. I play a fade, or at least try to. That's the shot I like. And this little golf course sets up perfect for a fade."
Thompson finished a dozen groups before the final pairing then had to sweat out the ending. He finished at 2 over, a shot behind winner Webb Simpson.
"I'm so young in my career, I'm just going to take this as a positive experience and build on it and hopefully gain some momentum for the rest of the year," said Thompson, 27. "I want to make it all the way through the
MASTERS-BOUND: Thompson's top-eight finish also earned him a spot in the Masters next year.
Ditto for John Peterson, who tied for fourth in his first major. The 2011 NCAA individual champion from LSU isn't on any tour right now, but he knows where he'll be in April.
"I was pleased with the way I played," Peterson said. "I just didn't putt good again, but ... that's the best I've hit it all week."
Peterson's week will be memorable for plenty of reasons.
There was the hole-in-one on No. 13 Saturday, followed by his priceless reaction when he tried to chest-bump his caddie afterward.
Then there was playing well enough to earn some air-time on TV.
"My grandmother passed away a week ago yesterday," he said of her unexpected death. "So I know my granddad's at home watching me. So it was pretty cool on Father's Day to play well for him and for my dad also."
RETURN ENGAGEMENT: Kevin Chappell qualified for next year's U.S. Open the same way he did this year -- with his top-10 finish. He tied for sixth in 2011, and tied for 10th Sunday at 5-over 285.
Casey Wittenberg, who followed a round of 67 with a 70 on Sunday, also finished at 285 to qualify next year.
UP A TREE: If only Lee Westwood had Lee Jansen's luck, he might have a major championship by now.
Both men found themselves up a tree at Olympic's fifth hole during a U.S. Open, Jansen in 1998 and Westwood on Sunday.
While Jansen's ball tumbled out like a gift from above after several minutes, giving him a chance to pull off a miracle chip-in par en route to a stunning upset of Payne Stewart, Westwood's disappeared for good.
It wasn't the same cypress tree that Jansen found, as that tree and numerous others have since been cut down. But it was in the same area.
Westwood used binoculars to try to find his ball Sunday but couldn't, forcing him back to the tee. He made a double bogey, dropped from three shots back to five off the lead.
He'd make up for it with an eagle on No. 17, but would finish tied for 10th at 5-over 285, four shots behind the winner.
After winning 35 times worldwide, Westwood is regarded as the best current player to have never won a major.
FATHER'S DAY PRESENT: Going into the 72nd hole Sunday, Keegan Bradley was at 17 over, and had no shot at winning the U.S. Open. But there was still time to make it a great Father's Day.
So he gave his caddie a rest and gave his dad, Wyoming club pro Mark Bradley, the bag.
"It was the highlight of my life," said Mark Bradley, who helped his son to an 18-over 298 finish. "It was really a wonderful experience, to be walking the fairway with my son. It was certainly one of the highlights of my career as a golfer. I'm a golf professional myself. I love my son, and he loves me. To walk down the 18th at a U.S. Open is a dream come true.
Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner, called the experience "pretty cool" and "one I'm sure we'll never forget."
Mark Bradley said his earliest memories of U.S. Opens with his son ended with disappointment, when Keegan would be driving back from regional or sectional qualifying and call to say he had missed the cut by a little or a lot.
"So it's been a long haul, but he finally made it," Mark Bradley said of his son. "And it was the right time and the right place and he learned a lot."
Keegan Bradley has played three majors now, and is 3 for 3 in cuts made. Besides winning the PGA, he tied for 27th at the Masters, and tied for 68th Sunday.