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The US Open 1998 Home Page
 

San Francisco, California
18th - 21st June
Par 70 Prize Money $3.0 million

Final Round

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Third Round
Second Round
First Round

Lee Janzen shoots 68 to win by one over Stewart

Associated Press

The Olympic Club, San Francisco, 21st June 1998 - Lee Janzen won the 1993 U.S. Open by holding off Payne Stewart down the stretch. Today, he turned back Stewart once again in the Open, this time by overcoming a five-stroke deficit.

Showing startling confidence on a day when no one was making birdies at The Olympic Club, Janzen played the final 15 holes 4-under par for a 2-under 68 to finish at even-par 280, one stroke ahead of Stewart.

Stewart came to the 18th hole needing a birdie to force an 18-hole playoff. But his approach was above the hole and he had a very difficult, very fast downhill, curling putt.

When the ball broke just low of the hole Janzen, who was watching on TV in the locker room, let out a big sigh and buried his head in a towel.

Stewart tapped in and walked dejectedly off the green.

Janzen had closed out his round 20 minutes earlier when he tapped in a 2-foot par putt while his father Larry clapped in appreciation for the Father's Day gift.

"That might not have looked like a long putt but it couldn't have been longer,'' Janzen said about his final stroke.

Janzen, playing two groups in front of Stewart, made bogeys on two of the first three holes and fell seven strokes behind -- the same margin Billy Casper erased in the final nine holes against Arnold Palmer in the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic.

But for the fourth consecutive time, the third-round leader in the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club was not able to protect the lead. Like Stewart, Ben Hogan in 1955, Arnold Palmer in 1966 and Tom Watson in 1987 all finished second.

Because none of those three ever won another major championship, Olympic is known as the Graveyard of Champions. Stewart, 41, won the PGA Championship in 1989 and the U.S. Open in 1991 and must now wonder if he will join them.

When Stewart stood on the second green he could see that there was no red on the leaderboard. No one among the contenders was making birdies, no one was making a move.

Then, after getting a break when his ball hung in a tree briefly on No. 5 before falling to the ground, Janzen kick-started his comeback when he chipped in from 15 feet to save par on the hole. He never made another bogey.

Stewart led after each of the first three rounds but finally gave up the top spot when he made consecutive bogeys on Nos. 12 and 13, the first when he had the bad luck to drive into a divot and the second when he couldn't get up and down from the thick greenside rough.

Janzen put the squeeze on coming down the stretch, hitting iron shots to 8 feet on No. 11 and 4 feet on No. 13 to take the lead.

"That's the one where I started thinking I was in the hunt,'' Janzen said about the birdie on No. 11.

And, as at Baltusrol when he won the Open, Janzen was a bulldog down the stretch, refusing to make mistakes.

The key may have come on No. 17, where Janzen was 5-over par in the first three rounds. After Stewart pulled back into a tie with a curling 15-foot on No. 14, Janzen played two perfect shots to the green on the 468-yard hole and made a good two-putt par from 35 feet, motioning playfully for the first putt to turn toward the hole.

"I wanted that hole today,'' Janzen said. "I didn't want to say that was the hole that undid me.''

Stewart lost the lead for good when he went from the rough to the rough to the bunker and made a bogey on No. 16.

Meanwhile, no one else among those within striking distance was able to mount a charge on the firm, fast and frightening Lake Course at Olympic.

Jeff Maggert, Bob Tway and Nick Price -- all veterans of major championship pressure -- had a chance but failed to make a move.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking of the also-rans was Tom Lehman, who started the day four strokes behind Stewart and was playing in the final group on the final day at the U.S. Open for the fourth consecutive year.

But he merely added a fifth-place finish to the third, second and third he has had the three previous years.

Similarly, none of the young guns expected to contend in this Open was a factor. David Duval closed with a 69 and was at 287, along with Lee Westwood, the young Englishman.

Justin Leonard, Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk were never a factor.

Other thrills came from other places.

Casey Martin rode up the 18th fairway in his cart to warm cheers from the gallery and closed with a 72 to be at 291. Jack Nicklaus, playing the Open for the 42nd time, was at 295, one stroke better than Els, the defending champion.

Amateur Matt Kuchar, who turned 20 today, shot a 74 and was at 289, one stroke better than Woods, who closed with a 73 that included a three-putt from 7 feet on the final hole.

John Daly shot a 78, including a quadruple bogey when he four-putted after missing a one-footer he tried to backhand, and was at 297.

The duel between Stewart and Lehman never developed and when Stewart curled in a 10-foot par-saving putt on No. 6 it seemed like he was going to continue the gritty golf that wins Opens.

When his putt fell into the hole with its last turn on No. 6 Stewart, who worked his chewing gum like a baker kneading dough, snatched ball and stared at hole as if to say, "How dare you even think about not letting that in.''

But as much as Stewart gave back strokes -- he needed a 72 instead of his 74 to win -- it was Janzen who mounted a true U.S. Open-styled charge to win.

The victory by Janzen meant that the last 15 major championships have been won by 15 different people going back to 1994.

And it showed once again that Janzen is a tough customer down the stretch when it matters the most.


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