Golf: Janzen scales Olympic heights

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The Independent Online
IN THREE previous US Opens at the Olympic Club the pursued had never outlasted his pursuer and Payne Stewart found the trend continue to his cost as Lee Janzen won the title for the second time. Five behind at the start of the round, his was the biggest final-day comeback for 25 years.

Stewart, attempting to repeat his wire-to-wire victory of 1991 at Hazeltine, led by five when Tom Lehman and Bob Tway both bogeyed the first hole. When Janzen bogeyed the second and the third, he was seven behind the man he defeated when winning the championship at Baltusrol in 1993.

But Janzen, the 33 year old who had not won for three years, then played the last 15 holes in four under for a 68 which gave him a level-par score of 280. As well as he played, he also benefited from some crucial interventions of good fortune. At the fifth hole, his drive stayed up in a tree for a while before dropping down when he was going back to the tee. Of course, he went on to chip-in for a par.

Then at the 11th, his second shot kicked back on to the green from the deep rough 12 yards left of the green and he holed from 10 feet for a birdie. Two holes later, a brilliant five-iron tee shot at the par-three set up his fourth birdie of the day.

For the leader, however, the things that went right on the first three days turned against him. The last time a player had held a four-shot lead with 18 holes to play in the US Open, Tony Jacklin safely went on to win in 1970. But at Olympic in 1966, Arnold Palmer was seven ahead of Billy Casper with nine to play before losing in a playoff.

Stewart bogeyed the fifth and the seventh yet still led by three at the turn. But at the 12th hole, his drive ended in a sand-filled divot, he found a bunker with his second and failed to get up and down. Janzen was now level and while Stewart immediately went bogey-birdie, the fatal mistake was again not getting up and down from a bunker at the 16th.

He was left with a curling, right-to-left putt from 18 feet at the last to tie with Janzen but as fine a putt as it was, it just swung away in front of the hole. With Stewart scoring a 74, Janzen was the only player in the top-six to score better than 73.

"It was a dream to win the US Open and there has not been a day gone by without me dreaming of doing it again," Janzen said. "After the third I didn't think I could win but I felt better after the birdie on four and I felt if I could get within two on the last few hole, somehow I could do it. And, somehow, I did."

Lee Westwood added a 71 to his 70 on Saturday to finish on seven over in seventh place, his best finish in a major beating his 10th at the Open last year. The 25 year old gained exemption for the US Open and the US Masters next year. He had the perfect start when he birdied the first two holes but immediately gave those shots back with bogeys at the next two.

But for the fourth day running Westwood showed grim determination is among his many qualities and a bogey at 17 was his only other deviation from par. He was level par for the back nine all week.

"I wanted to finish in the top-15 and hopefully do better than that and I got off to a great start," he said. "To shoot only one over on the weekend was good."

Colin Montgomerie's miserable time at his year's US Open continued to the bitter end as he was again subjected to abuse from the gallery during his last-round 69. Monty finished at 10 over par on a day when scoring was slightly easier after a little overnight rain, Paul Azinger managing an early five-under 65.

Any chance of Montgomerie adding to his three top-three finishes in the event disappeared with scores of 74 and 77 in the middle two rounds.

As far as the Scot's relationship with the American public is concerned, hope seems lost there, too. At the sixth hole, a spectator yelled: "Get in the bunker" when Montgomerie hit his drive.

Then, between the eighth green and the ninth tee, a man shouted: "Go home, Monty." Montgomerie turned and asked who had said that and when the person identified himself, asked why he had said that. "The Ryder Cup," came the reply. Monty said: "There was nothing wrong with that except that you lost."

"I've had happier weeks," Montgomerie said. "I didn't anticipate all this. I seemed to be blamed for winning the Ryder Cup. But no individual wins the Ryder Cup on their own, I had 11 very strong colleagues. I hope it goes away, it will be a mater of time. It is always just a minority. Tom was a great support and so was the USGA official with us."