Even though Webb Simpson was the unlikely hero of the 2012 US Open, amateur Beau Hossler was the most surprising story in sports this past weekend.
When amateurs play in a PGA tour event, their minds must be racing, constantly absorbing the pressures around them. The one question that never enters their head is “You think I have a shot at winning this thing?”
The 17-year old began contemplating the scenario when he entered the final round on Sunday, just four strokes off the lead. How many winners of the US Open have you seen wearing braces?
Hossler’s fourth round, however, was by far his worst, shooting a six-over 76, finishing eight strokes out of first place. But the kid has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
After all, he made the cut, something the first- (Luke Donald) and third-best (Rory McIlroy) players in the world can’t even say. In a sport where echoes of “Tiger” fill the air, this weekend, “Hossler” was the loudest cheer among the patrons.
Another surprising story on Sunday was that of Michael Thompson. Thompson dominated the course in the first round, shooting four-under par, three strokes ahead of the rest of the field. His 66 was the lowest score recorded all weekend.
But in the next two rounds, Thompson shot a combined nine-over, falling out of contention. Or so it seemed. On Sunday, Thompson struck the ball much like his opening round, nearly completing a monumental comeback and finishing tied for second at two-over par.
Many will be shocked to see that Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, and Tiger Woods failed to place in the top five. But should they be?
Westwood tied for tenth, a very respectable finish, but he still remains empty-handed when it comes to major championships. He is 0 for 56 in his career on the biggest stages of the PGA tour.
McIlroy is far from the third-best player in the world right now. Last week, he tied for seventh in the St. Jude Classic, but the two weeks before that he missed the cuts at The Memorial and The Players Championship. We have yet to see how the young prodigy will recover from the worst stretch of his career.
As for Tiger, I hate to say it (no I don’t), but I told you so. He wins a tournament and suddenly everyone thinks he will never lose again. After he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, he placed 40th in the Masters.
He won last week’s Memorial tournament, so yes, it should be expected that he placed 26th in the U.S. Open. He’s a different Tiger than the one we all remember. He hasn’t won a major since ’08, and it should come as no surprise that that drought is continuing.
Jim Furyk is the last of the surprises atop the leaderboard. Furyk had six bogeys in the final nine holes on Sunday, destroying the lead he had held for the previous two rounds. Normally confident in his ability to play scratch golf, Furyk simply didn’t look like himself on the back nine yesterday.
He stepped off the ball countless times, and for the first time in his career, the pressure really seemed to alter his play. His tee shots soared all over the place, and he may have hit more bunkers than greens in those last few holes, something that will definitely keep you from winning a US Open.