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Top of the world

Sticking doggedly to his game plan and keeping his discipline and nerve, Graeme McDowell delivered on his dad's ambitious Father's Day gift request -- a US Open triumph at Pebble Beach, California.

The Irishman held off world number one Tiger Woods, number two Phil Mickelson, twice champion Ernie Els and Gregory Havret of France to raise the trophy in the early hours of this morning, getting a victory hug on the 18th green from his father, Kenny.

"My father said there's only thing I wanted for Father's Day, and I wasn't quite sure whether I was going to be able to deliver that," McDowell (30) told reporters after ending a 40-year title drought for Europeans at the US Open. "It was a tough present to come up with, but there you go."

The one-shot triumph marked McDowell's first major victory, and he clutched the silver cup like he never wanted to let go.

"Careers are defined by major championships and my career's off and running today," he said.

McDowell managed his game and nerves like a champion, shooting a controlled three-over 73 that made him the only player in the field to match par over 72 holes on a fast and treacherous Pebble Beach layout.

"I really stuck to my plan, which was to stay patient, stay calm and not get sucked in by what the rest of the guys were doing," he said.

McDowell, whose victory lifted him from 37th to 13th in the world rankings, said the spectacular Pebble Beach setting kept him relaxed during the pressure-packed finale.

"The scenery here at Pebble, it's a great way of taking your mind off what was going on," he said.