McDowell takes down the big names playing his own game
All you ever want to be in any golf tournament is the last man standing and that's who Graeme McDowell became as he closed out Europe's first US Open victory in 40 years.
There wasn't a spectacular moment that clinched it, this was a triumph of composure and nerve. He hung on to a lead to win by one shot while the best in the world floundered in their bids to overhaul the man from Portrush in Northern Ireland.
It was only around the turn in the final round at Pebble Beach that McDowell first glanced at a leaderboard. He was shocked. He had thought he needed to be doing more to be on top.
Dustin Johnson, the overnight leader, had already shown he wasn't ready to make the giant step into the land of major winners with his capitulation at the second and third holes. His three stroke lead heading into the final round disappeared in the blink of a disbelieving eye as he triple bogeyed the second and double bogeyed the third.
McDowell witnessed the meltdown first hand and felt sympathy. He also recognised that opportunity was knocking and after a steady start the one birdie of his final round duly arrived at the short fifth to put him in control of the tournament.
But where were the big guns? Tiger Woods couldn't capitalise on his third round 66, Phil Mickelson was in a constant struggle with his game and Ernie Els, after a fast start began to implode around the turn.
Incredibly, as the back nine unfolded it was a player ranked only just inside the world's top 400 who proved McDowell's biggest threat. How is it that Gregory Havret with his beautifully rhythmic swing is not a bigger fish in the golfing pond?
It's an utter mystery. The Frenchman has beaten Mickelson in a play-off to win the Scottish Open and now he has beaten Woods by three shots in the final round of the US Open with the title on the line.
But McDowell wasn't intimidated by the name Havret on the leaderboard, he always felt it would be Woods, Mickelson or Els who would need to be overcome. The Ulsterman didn't reckon on them beating themselves, which is effectively what happened.
Woods could only card a 75, Els came home in 40 and Mickelson 39. How they will rue these closing rounds at the second major of the year.
Havret remained remarkably composed and ultimately it was his inability to get up and down from the sand on the last two holes that cost the likable Frenchman. His stats aren't good in this department and they left ajar the door for McDowell.
McDowell celebrates his memorable win at Pebble Beach
But, as so many near misses for home players remind us, when it comes to majors it is not always easy to take advantage of such opportunities. It is a cliche, but fortune favours the brave and McDowell did show the mettle required to land one of the game's big four titles.
And he received a vital break at the 14, where his putt from off the right of the green up the steep slope to the plateau where the hole lay just hung on. One more revolution and it would have been away down the slope on the other side.
As we covered the Championship on BBC Radio 5 live, summariser Jay Townsend called it McDowell's "Fred Couples moment", alluding to the occasion when Freddie's ball crucially defied gravity at the 12th at Augusta en route to victory.
This time it meant that the 30-year-old could remain in front coming down the stretch. It became a time for composure and the recent winner of the Wales Open showed it in abundance.
At the treacherous 17th he played a splendid bunker shot that took the ominous threat of a five out of the equation and then at the last, steered by his superb caddie Ken Comboy, McDowell was able to make all the correct decisions.
Knowing that Havret had not made birdie from the greenside bunker, the champion laid up to the perfect position, wedged on and a regulation two putts gave him this much cherished victory.
Nothing spectacular, but a stunning result to allow him to tread in the footsteps of Tony Jacklin, who 40 years earlier at Hazeltine was the last European to win America's national championship.
And how appropriate that a UK player has broken through in this event after four decades in which the likes of Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood have come so close to success in this elusive championship.
McDowell's win caps an unprecedented hat-trick of home victories on American soil in the last three weeks. First Justin Rose at the Memorial, then Westwood in Memphis and now to Irish delight he joins the stellar cast list of Pebble Beach US Open Champions.
"Think of the winners here," McDowell said. "Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Tiger Woods and now me," he added with a smile to offer a nice line in self-deprecation.
Let's not forget also the wins of Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy on American soil this year. It is turning into a vintage period that must delight European Ryder Cup captain Montgomerie.
McDowell, who is now up to 13th in the world rankings, is nailed on for a place in Monty's team. He has leapfrogged the current generation of home players who had been thought more likely to make the major breakthrough sooner.
But surely this result will serve to embolden Westwood, Paul Casey, Poulter, Luke Donald and McDowell's great friend from Northern Ireland, McIlroy.
It is time for "anything you can do....." to become the motto of European golf to turn this into a truly golden era for the continent in the biggest championships.
McDowell has shown there is nothing to fear. Keep playing your own game, trust it and you might just find that the big boys aren't quite as good as you thought.
That's how it panned out at Pebble Beach and that why McDowell was indeed that last man standing.