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Last Updated: Monday, 21 June, 2004, 02:38 GMT 03:38 UK
Grinder prevails at Shinnecock

Iain Carter
BBC golf correspondent

Retief Goosen

A thrilling conclusion to the US Open. The only downside was that Phil Mickelson will feel he lost it, but in essence Retief Goosen won it by grinding out his final round and by holing a succession of pressure putts.

Beforehand, and throughout the tournament, every player had said the short game would be the decisive factor and so it proved.

Under treacherous conditions it was Mickelson's nerve that gave way, with his three putts from short range after coming out of the bunker at 17.

In the current climate, you'd have to say Goosen is now one of the very best players in the world - he is only the second player after Tiger Woods since the turn of the century to win more than one major.

Tiger Woods
Woods' criticisms of the course were born out of frustration

His results haven't been that great this year but he has the game and mindset to deal with the specific demands of the US Open, where par golf is what is required.

There was plenty of talk about the course being too difficult, but with Robert Allenby able to shoot level-par 70, and the top two shooting 71, it shows the course was fair - just.

Woods was among those to claim it was unfair and that the course was "out of control", but that was born out of frustration that he is not playing as well as he can and he would like.

His spat with former coach Butch Harmon is the first time their differences have been aired in public and it was only a matter of time before that happened.

He was drawn into the argument because Harmon came out with the analysis that Woods is "in denial" about the state of his game.

Harmon was only telling the truth - Woods is struggling and it's not just his driver that is missing fairways. And what has happened now provides evidence that he can never go back to Harmon to sort out his swing.

It poses the question as to where does Woods go from here?

And it's hard to answer to that.

Ernie Els
Els' links pedigree deserted him in spades

Woods undoubtedly remains a great player with great resolve but technically his swing is not where it once was, and the man with whom he fashioned such a devastating action is not available to him.

I was also very surprised to see Ernie Els struggle to 80, particularly when you think that although the course was brutally difficult he is someone who has prevailed on similar layouts such as Muirfield, where he won the Open, and Royal Melbourne, where he has won the Heineken Classic for the last three years.

Obviously, this was a sterner test but the essence of golf required was very similar to those courses. He's also a two-time US Open winner and a two-under round of 68 would have made him champion.

It was a dismal US Open for the Europeans. By the last day only Sergio Garcia was in with a significant chance and that soon evaporated.

There was an assumption that because of the linksy nature this course would suit the Europeans.

But let's face it, the European Tour plays very few tournaments on links courses and so it's probably wrong to make such assumptions, and the evidence of this championship backs up that theory.

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