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“I couldn’t be happier right now,” said Simpson, who joined Raymond Floyd as the only North Carolina natives to win the U.S. Open.

There’s an old saying that you don’t win the Open, the Open wins you. Not in Simpson’s case.

He shot 68-68 on the weekend, brilliant considering the conditions, taking the fight to the Olympic Club and every other player, grabbing hold of a championship that could have belonged to any one of a dozen players on Sunday.

Instead, it went to Simpson, who played in his first major championship 12 months ago at Congressional Country Club outside Washington, D.C. One year and three time zones away, Simpson joined golf’s exclusive club of major champions. He sealed it with a brilliant par save on the 18th hole, chipping his ball out of a rugged lie to within three feet of the hole for what proved to be the clinching par.

He did it where Arnold Palmer, whose name was on Simpson’s Wake Forest scholarship, suffered one of the most difficult losses of his career, squandering a seven-stroke lead on the back nine in the final round of the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, losing to Billy Casper.

“To win here with what happened to him, I hope he can smile,” said Simpson, a Quail Hollow Club member.

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