Last Updated: 13/02/12 1:30pm
Conventional wisdom said that Vijay Singh didn't have the short game magic, especially with the putter, to make the leap from Masters contender to Green Jacket winner.
But with rain taking some of the fire out of Augusta National, the 37-year-old seized his opportunity with both hands to score a two-shot victory.
The Fijian set his stall out on a blustery first day which saw just two players - little-known American Dennis Paulson with a 68 and 1994 runner-up Tom Lehman with a 69 - break 70.
Singh signed for a level par 72 - enough to give him a tie for 10th place and a three-stroke lead over Tiger Woods, who stumbled to a 75 after going into the tournament as the red-hot favourite.
David Duval, the world number two, burst out of the pack in round two with a superb seven-under 65. It was a day which saw the cream rise to the crop with Duval ending it one clear of Singh (67) South African Ernie Els (67) and left-hander Phil Mickelson (68).
Also making the cut were 60-year-old Jack Nicklaus and 71-year-old Tommy Aaron. A year on from hip replacement surgery, Nicklaus carded a two-under 70 to lie six off the pace and three in front of a stumbling Woods, who could only shoot even par 72.
Woods hit back in round three with a six-birdie blitz either side of a two-hour thunderstorm delay. Just as he signed for his 68, a fierce wind (it hit 42mph) whipped up and it seemed as if Tiger was right back in the tournament.
Singh had other ideas though and despite playing in the worst of the weather he improved his score from five-under to seven-under to lead by three from Duval and by four from Els and Loren Roberts when play was halted for the day.
It left Singh with 22 holes to play on the final day and an early alarm call to resume his round at 8am.
A hot putter - he holed par putts from eight feet at 16 and 18 feet at the last - helped Singh stay three in front when he played the remaining four holes of his third round on Sunday.
That cushion quickly closed in round four when Duval birdied the second and Singh three-putted the third.
Singh wobbled again entering Amen Corner but limited the damage to a bogey when finding water at 11 and saved from sand at 12 after fortunately coming out of the azalea bushes into the bunker.
Birdies at 13 and 15 gave Singh some daylight after Duval had found Rae's Creek at the first of the two back nine par fives and he held his nerve over the closing holes to seal victory with an impressive final round 69.
Els' best-of-the-day 68 gave him second place, with Duval tying for third alongside Loren Roberts. Woods finished six shots back in fifth.
This was Singh's second major and followed on quickly from his victory in the 1998 USPGA. The key was his imperious play from tee to green. He topped the Greens In Regulations stats (hitting 80.6%) and was both long (12th Driving Distance) and straight (8th Driving Accuracy) off the tee. Singh played the par fours better than anyone else (-3) and his total of -9 on the par fives was bettered only by Tiger Woods. Surprisingly, his Augusta triumph was his only win in 2000.
|T7||Davis Love III||286||-2|
|Par 3 Contest Winner||Score|
|U.S. Open||Tiger Woods|
|The Open||Tiger Woods|