12thTime Lucky for Pavin

SOUTHAMPTON, New York -- Corey Pavin will never hear the question again. Greg Norman may never escape it.


Pavin, with a masterful closing round of 68 over the punishing Shinnecock Hills layout, won the U.S. Open on Sunday and will no longer have to explain why he is the best player around never to win a major championship.


Norman, with an unsteady 73 that was shakiest on the crucial closing holes, finished second in a major championship for the seventh time. His 282 was two strokes behind Pavin's even-par 280.


"I had faith that it would happen,'' Pavin said about finally winning a major. "I got tired of hearing the question. It wears on you.''


Congratulating Pavin on the 18th green, Norman patted him on the back and said, "Good job. Welcome to the club,'' a reference to having won a major championship. Norman has won two British Opens, but has never won a major in the United States.


Norman started the day tied for the lead with Tom Lehman at 1-under, but Pavin, playing the last 10 holes at 3-under, finished three strokes ahead of Lehman, who lost his last chance when he double bogeyed No. 16.


"I've been trying for 12 years to win one,'' Pavin said. "I'm very excited to have the monkey off my back.''


Pavin won with solid, accurate play over the rolling fairways, avoiding the penalizing rough that claimed so many others.


"That's what you really need here at Shinnecock, to keep control of the golf ball,'' Pavin said.


He also made huge putts, perhaps none bigger than a 5-foot par save on No. 17.


"I probably hit one of the best putts I've ever hit under pressure,'' Pavin said.


He closed it out with a bold, 228-yard 4-wood to the guarded 18th green. Pavin broke into a jog as the ball bounded onto the green and rolled toward to flag.


"I was very anxious to see that one,'' Pavin said. "I knew when I hit it was going to be pretty close.''


Norman sprayed the ball for the second straight day, but wasn't able to pull off the miracle par saves he made Saturday. He lost his last chance on No. 17 when he hit the sand trap on the par-3, blasted short and missed the putt for par to fall two behind.


It was Pavin's first victory in a major championship after finishing second once in the PGA, third in the Masters and fourth in the British Open. His previous best in the U.S. Open was eighth in 1991.


The 35-year-old Californian had 12 victories on the PGA Tour, but had never won a major championship. He will wear that label no longer.


Pavin had rounds of 72, 69, 71 and 68 over the grueling par-70 layout.


The wind was down on Sunday but the pressure was up. Pavin handled the hard, fast course brilliantly.


Davis Love, Phil Mickelson, Bill Glasson, Jeff Maggert, Jay Haas and Neal Lancaster were four strokes back at 4-over 284. Lancaster tied the course record with a final-round 65, including a 29 on the back nine.


(For top finishers, see Scorecard.)