The lottery of winning a major
Webb Simpson became a thoroughly deserving winner of the US Open and the 15th different major champion in a row.
It is impossible to argue against the validity of the 26-year-old American's victory after consecutive closing rounds of 68 at the Olympic Club. It was a performance worthy of major success.
America's national championship was won by one of the country's finest players, one who came close to landing last year's PGA Tour money list. Make no mistake, he is a proper player.
But how fondly will we remember the 2012 US Open? It was a typically attritional test designed to wear down the world's best players rather than to inspire spectacular golf. They were lucky to land a winner of such pedigree.
The US Golf Association's Mike Davis has won many plaudits for his course set-up, and for introducing graded rough and tinkering with tee and pin positions in recent US Opens, but it feels as though his influence on proceedings went too far this time.
Locating the hole just four paces on to the front of the raised, unforgiving 18th green was his biggest mistake. If ever there was a move to make sure no one could clinch the title with final-hole heroics, this was it.
Like so many decent drives over the last four days, Graeme McDowell's tee shot at the last trundled off a sloping fairway by a matter of inches and sat down in the first cut of rough.
Webb Simpson saw off the challenge of Graeme McDowell to win his first major. Photo: Getty
Needing a birdie to force a play-off, he had a shade over 100 yards to the flag and no chance of getting anywhere close.
In that respect he was no different to you or me - we couldn't get it near the hole either - so how is that identifying the best players in the world? Hacker and hero left in the same boat of despair.
McDowell played a brilliant shot to 24 feet but it was never more than an outside chance that he would claim the birdie he so desperately required.
"I missed the fairway by a foot and my ball is sitting down in the right semi rough," the 2010 champion said. "I have no control to that front pin and I hit it as close as I possibly could."
In the final round that closing par four played a shade over 300 yards and yielded just six birdies. That's not much fare for the massed thousands around the closing green and the primetime millions watching on the east coast of America.
The trouble with the US Open is that it is too much about the course and not enough about the players.
The 99-yard shortening of the par-five 16th was another prime example from the final round.
Jim Furyk effectively blew it with a bogey six after a snap hooked drive off that tee. The American is blaming no one but himself and accepts it was the same for everyone, but still made a telling observation.
"I know the USGA gives us a memo saying that they play from multiple tees, but there is no way to prepare for 100 yards," the 2003 winner said.
"To get to a tee where the tee box is 100 yards up and the fairway makes a complete 'L' turn, I was unprepared and didn't know exactly where to hit the ball off the tee."
Players would not have hit that drive in practice, yet all of a sudden with three holes to go on a Sunday evening they are being asked to hit into the unknown.
It is as though the US Open and, to a lesser degree, the other majors feel they have to do something special to these courses to make them worthy of the elevated status enjoyed by the big four championships.
They seem to forget that work has already been done by the assembly of the strongest fields in the game. World rankings, tour results and a myriad exhaustive qualifying competitions and past glories ensure the right people are gathered to contest the biggest prizes.
So let them do so on a relatively level playing field. At the moment it is akin to assembling a field of thoroughbreds for the Derby and asking them to take on the Grand National course. The last one standing is the winner.
That was the case with Simpson and McDowell two years earlier. The wet conditions at Congressional a year ago meant a much fairer test, more birdies and the most talented player in the game, Rory McIlroy, streaking away from the field.
What's wrong with that? Why not let them go and play? Don't worry about where they finish in relation to par; let them flourish and let the guy with the lowest score win.
"Today was a grind; it was a slog," said McDowell after coming up a shot short of forcing a play-off.
It's important to point out this wasn't a complaint, rather an observation, and he went on to say he loves the challenge. "I'm not sure you can have your 'A' game on this golf course because it beats you up," he added.
"The fairways are elusive, the greens are rock hard and it's a tough test of golf - the toughest."
Four days of seeing balls bounding through unreceptive greens not designed to accommodate running approaches; players hitting and hoping from thick collars of rough; and shanking from plugged bunker lies was quite enough.
In such circumstances there's a real danger of the tournament turning into a lottery. No offence intended, but we were pretty close to either John Peterson (831 in the world) or the seriously unheralded Michael Thompson becoming US Open Champion.
To varying degrees all the majors are guilty of making their courses too difficult. It's the fallout from the perceived need to Tiger-proof after he ran away with the 1997 Masters.
But since the demise of Woods (he's back, he's not, he's back, he's not) the majors in general have largely failed to identify the best players in the world. Fifteen different winners in the last 15 majors threaten to devalue the currency of the biggest prizes because they are less likely to fall into the hands of the very special players.
The four World Golf Championships tournaments, with less penal course set-ups, have proved a far more accurate gauge of golfing supremacy.
In Simpson, Olympic Club managed to yield a quality winner but it felt as though it was more by luck than judgement.