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McDowell answers dad's Father's Day prayers

other Updated: Jun 21, 2010 14:20 IST

Reuters
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Sticking doggedly to his game plan and keeping his discipline and nerve, Graeme McDowell delivered on his dad's ambitious Father's Day gift request -- a US Open triumph at Pebble Beach.

The Northern Irishman held off world number one Tiger Woods, number two Phil Mickelson, twice champion Ernie Els and Gregory Havret of France to raise the trophy on Sunday, getting a victory hug on the 18th green from his father, Kenny.

"My father said there's only thing I wanted for Father's Day, and I wasn't quite sure whether I was going to be able to deliver that," McDowell, 30, told reporters after ending a 40-year title drought for Europeans at the US Open.

"It was a tough present to come up with, but there you go."

The one-shot triumph marked McDowell's first major victory, and he clutched the silver cup like he never wanted to let go.

"Careers are defined by major championships and my career's off and running today," he said.

McDowell managed his game and nerves like a champion, shooting a controlled three-over 73 that made him the only player in the field to match par over 72 holes on a fast and treacherous Pebble Beach layout.

"I really stuck to my plan, which was to stay patient, stay calm and not get sucked in by what the rest of the guys were doing," the Briton said.

McDowell went from three shots back to tied for the lead after two holes with the implosion of overnight leader Dustin Johnson, who triple-bogeyed the second hole and double-bogeyed the third.

Other than a brief tie for the lead in the front nine with South African Els, McDowell remained in charge, despite bogeys at the nine and 10.

"I looked up at the leaderboard and I was surprised to be two ahead," said McDowell, who had led by as many as four strokes.

FRENCH CHALLENGE

"I was surprised that Gregory Havret was the guy closest to me. No disrespect to Gregory, he's a great player, but when you have Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els obviously there, you're not expecting Gregory Havret to be the guy you've got to fend off.

"When I saw that I really made myself knuckle down."

Needing par on the last, McDowell played the par-five in classic fashion, laying up to 100 yards, putting his approach within 20 feet and tapping in from a foot to clinch a victory.

McDowell, whose victory lifted him from 37th to 13th in the world rankings, said the spectacular Pebble Beach setting kept him relaxed during the pressure-packed finale.

"The scenery here at Pebble, it's a great way of taking your mind off what was going on," he said.

"Anytime I felt nervous or felt myself getting ahead of myself I just had a look around and just took in the scenery and tried to use that to bring me back into the present."

McDowell said he was still in shock from his victory.

"To win at Pebble Beach, to join the names, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Tiger Woods, me. Wow!

"I'm not quite sure if I belong in that list. But, hey, I'm there now. It's a pretty amazing feeling."

McDowell was looking forward to cutting loose with friends back home.

"I think I might catch them all up with beer next weekend," he said. "The Harbor Bar, Portrush, a pint of Guinness. I think there will be a few of those in my future."