Retief Goosen of South Africa claimed his second U.S. Open title in four years with a two-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y. But it was the way Goosen his final-round 1-over-par 71 that was most impressive.
On a breezy and sunny day that saw the final-round scoring average soar to 78.7, the unflappable Goosen managed to one-putt 11 greens, including five of the last six, for a 72-hole total of 4-under 276. Mickelson, the 2004 Masters champion, also controlled his game beautifully. The left-hander birdied the par-5 16th hole, a hole he double-bogeyed in the 1995 Open at Shinnecock when he was in contention on the final day, to momentarily take a one-stroke lead. But at the par-3 17th, Mickelson found a greenside bunker with his tee shot and then proceeded to three-putt for a double-bogey 5. Goosen birdied 16 and then parred 17 and 18 for the two-stroke victory.
During the first two rounds, light winds and seasonal weather left Shinnecock vulnerable for some low scoring and four players posted 4-under 66s in the first round, including 50-year-old Jay Haas, who had an enjoyable Father’s Day weekend as his son, Bill, also made the cut. Five more players, including Mickelson and Goosen, posted 66s in Friday’s second round.
By the weekend, the winds shifted and Shinnecock began showing its teeth. Of the 66 players who made the cut, only three broke par. Goosen was the lone player of the final 16 groups to achieve the feat. He led two-time Open winner Ernie Els by two strokes entering the final 18 holes and while Goosen remained steady under the difficult conditions, Els faltered to an 80, his worst Open round by three strokes.
Robert Allenby of Australia posted the day’s best round – an even-par 70 – and moved up 27 spots to a tie for seventh. Amateur Spencer Levin, who aced No. 17 in the second round, finished tied for 13th, the best finish by an amateur in the Open since Jim Simons tied for fifth in 1971.