Masters champion Phil Mickelson admitted that Retief Goosen was a worthy champion after the South African prevailed at Shinnecock Hills.
"I fought hard the whole day," said Mickelson, who crucially three-putted the 17th for a double bogey.
The left-hander, who finished two shots adrift, added: "I played some of the best golf I've ever played.
"Boy did Retief play well. I want to give him credit, he played so solidly and deserved to win."
Goosen's second US Open title came three years after he won his first following a nerve-jangling finale to the 2001 event at Southern Hills.
GOOSEN FACT FILE
Born: 3 Feb 1969, Pietersburg, SA
Turned pro: 1990
First win: SA Tour's 1991 Iscor Classic
1995: Holds off Ernie Els to win South African Open
1996: Wins maiden European Tour title
1997: 7th on Order of Merit
2000: Makes President's Cup International team v US
2001: Wins US Open; Wins Order of Merit
2002: Second to Tiger Woods at Masters; retains Order of Merit
2004: Wins second US Open
He was set to win on the 18th but three-putted from 12 feet before holding his nerve to beat American Mark Brooks in an 18-hole play-off the following day.
And in recognition, Goosen shook his cap at the hole after sinking the winning putt on Sunday.
"I just didn't want to three-putt the 18th again, that's
all," Goosen said.
The 35-year-old led by two overnight but was made to fight all the way to the end, especially after Mickelson took the outright lead on the 16th before double-bogeying 17.
"I made a few good pars coming in, which you need to do in
the US Open," said Goosen, who needed only 24 putts, including 11 one-putts.
"When Phil started making a good run on the back nine, I
knew I had to hang in there.
"Everybody struggled. The course wasn't
easy and, you know, I'm just lucky to be on top."