Monday, 19 June 2006

Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy was the last man standing at Winged Foot to claim the US Open title after the victory hopes of both Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie were dashed on the final hole.

Ogilvy got up and down at the last for a final round of 72 and a five over par total of 285, one better than Montgomerie, Mickelson and Jim Furyk. Padraig Harrington was a further shot adrift on seven over par after bogeying the last three holes for a closing 71.

Overnight co-leader Kenneth Ferrie carded a final round of 76 to finish in a share of sixth place in his impressive US Open debut alongside fellow European Tour Members Nick O’Hern, whose 69 equalled the low score of the day, and Vijay Singh (73) along with Mike Weir, Steve Stricker and Jeff Sluman.

When the dust settles European Tour Members can take great encouragement from a strong challenge in the 106th US Open with ten representatives finishing in the top 20 but in the end they came up agonisingly short.

Coming down the stretch it looked as if Mickelson would claim his third consecutive Major title, following his victories in the 2005 US PGA Championship and the Masters Tournament in April, when he birdied the 14th hole to go two strokes clear of the field.

But everything changed when Montgomerie holed a huge 50 foot putt on the 17th green for an brave birdie to move to four under par and into a share of the lead when Mickelson, playing two groups behind bogeyed the 16th.

Having come so close to winning a Major in the past Montgomerie needed one more good hole. His drive found the fairway but with 172 yards to the pin, he dropped down a club to counter the adrenaline and his approach came up short and right in the thick rough.

The 2005 European Order of Merit Champion dug the ball out onto the green but three putted from 30 feet for more US Open heartache. Three times now Montgomerie has finished runner-up in this particular Major.

“This is as difficult as it gets,” said Montgomerie afterwards. “You wonder sometimes why you put yourself through this.

“This is the first time I’ve really messed up. Other chances I’ve had, other players have done very well.”

He also revealed he had changed from a six iron to a seven iron on the 18th, adding: "I thought adrenalin would kick in, but I caught it slightly heavy and it went right. It was a poor shot, no question about it, and I put myself in a poor position."

The 18th had been a costly hole all week however, and for nobody more than Harrington.

The Dubliner ran up a triple bogey seven in his third round, and bogeyed it again on Sunday after also dropping shots at the 16th and 17th. Until that point he was the only player in the field without a bogey on his card in a colossal final day effort.

"I'm very disappointed," said Harrington. "Three pars to win the US Open. It probably doesn't get any easier than that. I hit three good tee shots and got it in play but that's the way it goes.

"I certainly ruined this one. I was never happy with my game and it just caught me out a little bit at the end.

"I knew I was there or thereabouts and I was trying to make birdies on the last three holes."

With Harrington in at seven over par and Montgomerie in the clubhouse at six over,  Ogilvy, a distant relative of Sir Angus Ogilvy - a member of the British Royal family - then saved par on the 18th to set the clubhouse target, leaving Mickelson needing a par four to win.

However, the World Number Two hit a wild drive which bounced back into play off a marquee to the left of the fairway. From there his attempted recovery caught a tree and remained in the rough, and his third caught a greenside bunker.

From a "fried egg" lie Mickelson was unable to keep the ball on the green and missed the return chip to force a play-off.

A hugely disappointed Mickelson said: "I'm still in shock that I did that. I'm such an idiot.

"I just can't believe I couldn't par the last. It really stings. This one hurts more than any tournament because i had it won.

"I had it in my grasp and let it go. This is going to take a while to get over."

Ogilvy, the winner of the WGC – Accenture Match Play earlier in the season, however stood tall to claim the title, getting up and down on the last for a winning par.

"I think I was the beneficiary of a little bit of charity," admitted Ogilvy. "I think I got a bit lucky.

"I thought second place would be pretty good, I never thought I was going to get away with it like that.

"I saw him (Mickelson) drive into the trees and thought I might make a play-off, we'd have to change the hotels and be here all day Monday!"


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