Webb Simpson believed he could be a major champion - just not yet.
But he woke up this morning as the winner of the 112th US Open, the ninth straight first-time winner in majors and the 15th consecutive different winner after beating Graeme McDowell and Michael Thompson by a shot at the Olympic Club in California.
''If I was honest with you, I believed in myself I could win a major, but maybe not so soon,'' Simpson said with his hands grasped on the trophy.
''This is just my fourth or fifth major and I just gained all the respect for the guys who have won multiple majors, because it's so hard to do.
''The level of pressure is so much greater than a regular event. To be honest, I never really wrapped my mind around winning.''
Simpson shot a two-under 68 on the final day to finish at one-over 281, one clear of McDowell (73) and Thompson (67) and two clear of Jim Furyk (74), David Toms (68), Padraig Harrington (68), Jason Dufner (70) and John Peterson (70) who shared fourth at 283.
John Senden was the pick of the Australians, finishing with a final-round 72 to be tied 10th at five-over par.
But the day belonged to Simpson, who picks up a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour and the three other majors plus a 10-year exemption to the US Open.
Not to mention the small matter of the $US1.44 million ($A1.43 million) winner's cheque.
He started the day four off the lead and bogeyed two of the first five holes. For some it would be enough to throw in the towel.
But Simpson knuckled down, refused to look at the leaderboard and four birdies in his next five holes sent him roaring back into contention.
Eight straight pars to finish turned out to be enough when both Furyk and McDowell failed to birdie the final hole to force a play-off.
''I've been a leaderboard watcher my whole life but with what pressure a major brings I just didn't think it would do any good to see where I was at,'' the 26-year-old said of his decision not to watch the numbers.
''So much can happen, even if I was two up or three up or even five back, so much can happen during the middle part of the golf course, so I didn't look again.
''I told myself don't get too excited, don't try to win. Luckily I made some putts, and got a couple under out of it. Given the circumstances and pressure, I was happy I wasn't in the final group.''
Tiger Woods' chances of a 15th major championship nosedived early. Starting five off the lead, Woods bogeyed the first two holes, double bogeyed the third and further bogeys on the fifth and sixth holes dropped him 10 shots off the lead.
Three birdies in the closing 11 holes ensured he posted a 73, leaving him seven-over in a tie for 21st. Adam Scott was left to rue a poor first round after shooting his third consecutive 70 on the final day, leaving him tied for 15th at six over, his best US Open finish.
''If I was to critique the week I'd like to have upped the intensity right from the get go,'' Scott said. AAP