us open final round

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The US Open served up a final-round thriller as two former winners tried to keep the field at bay.

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell and American Jim Furyk looked likely to land their second US Open title. But it was Webb Simpson who stole the show with a storming round of 68.

McDowell got off to a terrible start and was four over for the front nine. But he rallied well and hit three birdies on the back nine to claw his way back into contention. He had a 25-foot birdie putt on the last to force a play-off with Simpson, who was sitting in the locker room watching the drama unfold on television.

McDowell's putt was well-struck but stayed left and never really threatened the hole. McDowell said afterwards: "There's a mixture of emotions right now... mostly frustration. I hit three fairways today and you can't do that at the US Open. You're meant hit it in more fairways and that was the issue for me today."

It had looked for most of the day like Furyk would hang tough in the extremely tough conditions. But at the par-5 16th the wily old warhorse let it slip. He hooked his tee shot badly and had to scramble to make a bogey. Another bogey on the last saw him drop to three over for the tournament - one back from second-placed McDowell.

Ernie Els also had a look-in. The South African drove the par-4 7th green and drained the eagle putt to get within two shots of the lead. And he stayed right in contention until the 16th when he tugged a wedge into trouble. In the end he had to settle for 9th, three shots off the lead.

Simpson could hardly believe his eyes. "It was a cold day", admitted the 25-year-old. "I had a peace all day, although I've never prayed as much as I did on the last three holes!"

The victory moves him up to fifth in the world rankings.

First-round leader Michael Thompson rediscovered some of his early form with a stunning 67 to rocket back into seocnd place, alongside McDowell. Padraig Harrington was also a man on a charge and his last-round 68 lifted him into a tie for fourth, just two shots off the lead.

Lee Westwood battled away but could only manage a 73 which saw him end up 10th. Tiger Woods could not find the touch that saw him top the leaderboard after the first two rounds and his Sunday effort of 73 was only good enough for 21st.