He ended up making bogey, not birdie, and on a day when an even-par round would have won him the title by two, he shot a 4-over 74 to finish tied for fourth.
McDowell’s putt rolled slowly down the hill, but never truly had a chance. It settled left of the cup, and the Northern Irishman — so embraced here, just up the coast from where he won the 2010 Open at Pebble Beach — shrugged his shoulders.
“That putt, it was weird, because I hit that putt in practice and it bumped left and it moved right of the hole,” McDowell said. “It just didn’t do that today.”
He closed with 73, unable to overcome an uneven day in which he made six bogeys. He ended up in a tie with Michael Thompson — an obscure pro who qualified at Rockville’s Woodmont Country Club and shot 67 Sunday to set a target of 2 over — for second. Both Furyk and McDowell had other moments they will think back on, adding to their frustration. McDowell made back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12, then back-to-back bogeys at 13 and 14. He hit just three fairways all day. Furyk will have the drive at the par-5 16th — a shot where the tee box was moved a full 100 yards forward from the 670-yard back tees, creating a completely different look than the players had faced.
“It’s awkward,” he said. He looked it, snapping a nasty, hard hook that led to bogey, the bogey that thrust Simpson, for the first time all week, into the lead as he played 18. Others had walked away from that same spot feeling cursed — Harrington because he needed birdie at the last to get to 1 over, and instead chunked a sloppy shot into a bunker and made bogey, and Els because he bogeyed two of the final three, when one birdie and two pars would have forced a playoff.
“I’m not sure you can have your ‘A’ game on this course, to be honest,” McDowell said. “It just beats you up.”
The least beat-up ended up to be Simpson, dressed neatly in a cardigan, drinking a bottle of water. He was the one, the only one, who left Olympic smiling, all his memories worth framing.