Published 10:09 am Monday, June 21, 2010

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — There was the group of players he beat and the group of players he joined.

With his whole career in front of him and a U.S. Open title behind him, 30-year-old Graeme McDowell now goes about trying to be remembered more as the guy who knocked off Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els and not merely the latest on an eclectic list of surprising champions at golf’s most unpredictable major.

McDowell played a fourth straight round of unflappable golf Sunday at Pebble Beach and held off the sport’s fearsome threesome to prove, yet again, that a great track record guarantees nothing when it comes to the U.S. Open.

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He shot 3-over-par 74 to finish the tournament at even-par 284 and beat Frenchman Gregory Havret, the 391st-ranked player in the world, by a stroke. But it was the way McDowell kept the Big Three in his rearview mirror all day long that was so impressive.

Luis Fabiano gave Brazil the lead in the 25th minute with a hard shot from close range that easily beat Ivory Coast goalkeeper Boubacar Barry. He added another in the 50th, but twice handled the ball on the play.

“It’s difficult to deal with Fabiano, but it’s even more difficult if he’s allowed to use his hands,” Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said. “They got a goal free. That’s a 2-nil goal — that changed everything.”

Luis Fabiano later admitted to the hand ball.

“It’s true, the ball really touched my hand and then my shoulder,” Luis Fabiano said. “But it was involuntary. It was one of the greatest goals I’ve scored in my career.”