SAN FRANCISCO — When Webb Simpson is asked, years from now, for the shot that defined the 112th U.S. Open, he may well pick the dainty-as-a-doily chip he faced at the side of the 18th green in Sunday’s final round. He had been the leader of the Open for all of five minutes, and the players with more holes to endure had more messes to make. He picked the ball carefully out of the gnarly grass, watched it tumble gingerly across the green, where it settled three feet past the hole. He made the par putt, and headed to the clubhouse — a memory either way.
But to anyone else — to Jim Furyk or Graeme McDowell, to Padraig Harrington or Ernie Els — the shot that defined this version of the Open was something else completely. Simpson has the trophy, because that chip shot helped close out a 68 that left him at 1-over-par 281 for this brutal tournament. He is 26, a North Carolinian by birth and residence, a father of one with another on the way. And he celebrated his first major championship in the comfort of Olympic’s clubhouse, kissing his wife Dowd while his most likely assailants created their own memories, albeit dark ones.