Jim Furyk admitted that winning the US Open was "beyond dreams".
The 33-year-old American, who had previously earned 12 top-10 finishes at Majors without ever finishing higher than fourth, triumphed at Olympia Fields by three shots on a day when he his third-round lead was never challenged.
A model of determination during the final round, Furyk's emotion was clear after winning as he shed tears and embraced his wife and parents.
"It's a proud day - it's beyond some dreams," the new champion said immediately after receiving his trophy.
"I had a difficult time wishing my dad happy Father's Day this morning. He and my mum have been very involved in my career and this is one heck of a present."
Furyk missed out on the chance to break the all-time low score at the US Open after three-putting on the final hole.
-8 J Furyk (US)
-5 S Leaney (Aus)
-1 M Weir (Can), K Perry (US)
Level J Rose (GB), F Jacobson (Swe), D Toms (US), E Els (SA), N Price (Zim)
And the Ryder Cup star admitted he had lost a little focus after finding the 18th green in regulation.
"After my second shot (onto the green) I lost a little concentration. I kind of broke down.
"And on the last hole - the record entered my mind - a two-putt and I break the all-time record!"
But Furyk later confessed he was just happy to finish the tournament and start celebrating his achievement.
Tiger Woods failed to deliver the "great round" he predicted he would need to have any chance of holding on to his title.
The defending champion, who saw his title hopes diminish on Saturday with a third-round 75, began on Sunday with two birdies.
JIM FURYK FACTFILE
1970 Born 12 May, West Chester, Pennsylvania
1992 Turns professional
1995 First PGA win comes at Las Vegas Invitational
1997 Sets tour record for most earnings in a year without a win
1999 Wins Las Vegas Invitational for third time, makes second Ryder Cup appearance
2002 Earns more than $2m for second straight year, plays in third Ryder Cup
2003 Ten top-10 finishes on tour before winning US Open
But it was to be the highlight of another disappointing round from the world number one, and his title bid was finally derailed by a four-putt double-bogey at the ninth.
"It's been frustrating the whole week," Woods said.
"I've not got anything going. I felt I was close to putting it together, but I need a bit of momentum."
Woods now has no Major titles to his name for the first time in four years, having relinquished his US Masters title to Mike Weir in April.
But the American refused to accept suggestions that he may be suffering a dip in form.
"Your goal is to go out there and win every time you compete," said Woods, who was trying to become the first back-to-back US Open champion since Curtis Strange in 1989.
"Is that going to happen? No. It's not like I can't hit a shot. I'm hitting good shots, and it's a matter of making some putts.
"There's one thing you can control - that's your effort level. If you can give it everything you've got all the way around, you can't be too disappointed with yourself."
Second-placed Stephen Leaney confessed to mixed emotions after a roller-coaster final round.
No one remembers third or fourth
The Australian finished the day as he started, three shots behind Furyk. When the American dropped a shot, so did Leaney.
"I guess I'm happy and sad," said the 34-year-old Leaney. "I had a wonderful chance today but he kept me at arm's length. I was always three or four shots back.
"But I've had a wonderful week. I've got my US Tour card for next year, and I get to the Masters."
Reigning Masters champion Mike Weir was another to express disappointment, despite a superb fight-back over the weekend.
The Canadian followed a poor first round of 73 with scores of 67, 68 and 71 to finish on one under and tie for third.
But Weir said: "No one remembers third or fourth. I would have loved to have posted a better number on Thursday and been in the ballgame a little more.
I think I'm capable of winning a Major in the not too distant future
"I was never really in contention. Even though I'm third or fourth, I'm six, seven, or eight back."
Tom Watson, who shared the lead after the first round, ended an emotional weekend with a two-over 72 and finished 12 shots behind Furyk.
"There are a lot of memories," Watson said. "First and foremost are the feelings and emotions that we had on the first day when I shot 65.
"The magical moments of leading the U.S. Open, which caused an outpouring of emotion - it's been heart-warming."
Bruce Edwards, Watson's long-time caddie, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease, in January.