Near miss gives McDowell new confidence
Graeme McDowell arrived at the US Open a week ago out of form and wracked by self-doubt. On Sunday, he left the Olympic Club disappointed and frustrated after coming agonisingly close to winning a second major.
Despite playing poorly for most of Sunday's final round, the Northern Irishman suddenly found himself with a chance of forcing his way into a playoff if he could birdie the last two holes.
"This is sort of a new experience for me, finishing second at a major championship, but I would rather have tried and failed than have never tried at all," he told reporters.
"Today has reinforced to me that I can compete and win more major championships.
"It's been a frustrating five or six weeks for me, but I knew in my heart that my game was better than my results were showing and it was just great to come in this week, prepare and put it up there at a major championship."
McDowell successfully birdied the par-five 17th and was confident of making another at the par-four 18th, which he had already birdied in two of his previous three rounds, when he found the centre of the green with his approach shot.
But he was still left with a difficult putt, from 25 feet, downhill on a slippery surface. The crowd let out a mighty roar as the ball headed towards the hole then a groan as it curled away at the last second.
It was close, but not close enough and McDowell had to settle for a tie for second with Michael Thompson on two over for the tournament, just one stroke behind the newly crowned champion Webb Simpson.
"There's a mixture of emotions inside me right now. Obviously disappointment, deflation, pride, but mostly just frustration," McDowell said.
"It was a nice opportunity, one that I would obviously desperately love to have holed, but Webb's a great champion."
McDowell's frustration was tempered by the fact that, apart from his breakthrough win at the 2010 US Open at nearby Pebble Beach, he had produced his best finish at any major following a lean run.
He had missed the cut at his last two PGA Tour events and was becoming frustrated by his results. By his own admission, he did not play his best during the championship.
"I really didn't have much of an 'A' game this week and I'm not sure you can have your 'A' game on this golf course because it beats you up," he said.
"The fairways are very elusive, the greens are rock hard, and it's a tough test of golf, the toughest and I don't think anyone had their 'A' game this week it's impossible to do.
"So to compete as well as I did with my 'B' plus game, I'm very proud of myself."