Friday, 19 March 2010
Tiger Woods compiled a record-breaking 15-stroke victory in the 100th US Open Championship to claim his third major championship with rounds of 65, 69, 71, 67 for a 12 under par total of 272. It was also a truly outstanding week for European Tour Members who rose to the challenge of Pebble Beach with five players in the top seven, led by Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jiménez in joint second, and in total eight gaining top 12 finishes.

Rounds of 65, 69, 71 and 67 gave Woods a 12 under par total of 272, with Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jiménez sharing second place on 287 after rounds of 72 and 71 respectively, Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood on joint fifth, two shots further back, and Nick Faldo occupying seventh.

Michael Campbell, playing in his first US Open, Retief Goosen and double Masters Champion José Maria Olazabal were all tied for 12th.

Indeed Jiménez continued his outstanding sequence of performances, following his victory in the Volvo Masters in 1999 when he also tied Tiger Woods in the WGC – American Express Championship, by finishing joint runner-up with Ernie Els. In so doing he produced the best performance by a Spaniard in the history of the Championship.

Jiménez led the European Tour challenge from the start with an opening 66 to lie just a shot off the lead before play was suspended due to fog. The Spaniard was still within three strokes of Woods at the end of the second day and by the end of third round Woods, the only player under par, was followed by a host of European Tour Members. Els, whose 68 the only sub-par score in the third round, was his nearest challenger at a total of two over par, followed by Harrington and Jimenez a shot further back.

Harrington and his Ryder Cup partner Jiménez were enjoying their best major championships and by going to the turn in 33 they had moved into a share of second spot as Els fell back. Second represented Jiménez's best-ever finish in a major - and fifth is also Westwood's. Harrington was also joint fifth in the 1997 Open at Royal Troon. Faldo, of course, has six majors to his name. But this was his best performance since he was fourth at the 1996 Open.

Woods won £800,000 and Els, who also finished runner-up in the Masters Tournament earlier this year, and Jiménez won $390,150 each, Harrington and Westwood $162,526 each and Faldo $137,203.

Darren Clarke, one of 14 European Tour Members to play all 72 holes, remains number one in the Volvo Order of Merit with 1,516,265 euro (£957,885). Els is in second place with 1,110,475 euro (£701,531) ahead of Westwood (998,485 euro; £630,783), Colin Montgomerie (960,940 euro, £607,064), Campbell (733,617 euro, £463,455) and Jiménez (724,347 euro, £457,599).

Woods was magnificent as he beat by two the previous biggest winning margin in major championship history, set in 1862 by Old Tom Morris at Prestwick. Already the holder of the US PGA Championship, Woods added his first US Open with a 12-under-par-aggregate of 272, equalling the lowest total in the championship and becoming the first player to finish in double figures under par.

Westwood summed up the historical nature of the day when he said: "I never expected to see anybody ever 12 under par in this event. He has something special . I think they (The United States Golf Association) want level par to be the winning score every year. And it would have been for everyone else."

Not since Henry Cotton at the 1934 Open at Sandwich had a player taken a ten-stroke lead into the final round of any major, but that was the situation Woods found himself and with nine straight pars on the outward half his advantage had been trimmed by one. His first birdie came at the 446-yards after he had hit his approach to 12 feet. When he slotted in a 20-footer at the next, he became only the second player in the US Open to reach 10 under at any point. From the rough at the 406-yard 13th he almost holed his approach and then he birdied the long 14th as well. A par five on the final hole sealed a commanding victory.

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