Argentina's Angel Cabrera, surprise champion at the 107th US Open, summed up his win best by saying he had beaten the field but not the course.
The brutal par-70 layout at Oakmont Country Club unquestionably had the measure of the players after a torture chamber of a week that ended with a winning US Open total of five-over 285.
"I beat everybody here, not only Tiger Woods," Cabrera told reporters through a Spanish interpreter after becoming on Sunday the second South American to win a major title.
"But I wasn't able to beat the golf course. The golf course beat me."
Beefy Cabrera, who held off world number one Woods and third-ranked Jim Furyk with his power game to claim his maiden PGA Tour title by a stroke, began and ended the week with scores of 69.
The 37-year-old from Cordoba was the only player in the field to produce two sub-par rounds on one of golf's toughest layouts.
Best score of the tournament was Briton Paul Casey's sparkling 66 in the second round, one of just eight sub-70 performances recorded during the week.
Hilly Oakmont, widely regarded as boasting the toughest greens in the game, provided a gruelling challenge with its tight, fast-running fairways, deep bunkers and thick rough.
Frequently players had to opt for the shortest route to the fairway when hacking balls out of the scraggly, tangly grass. Failure to do so often resulted in a ball staying in the rough after being advanced only four or five yards.
The indirect approach was usually the best option to escape from greenside bunkers with players aiming away from the hole to cope with the contours of lightning-fast putting surfaces.
When asked how difficult the course proved during Friday's second round, twice champion Woods used the analogy of a 10-handicap golfer who would expect to shoot around 80.
"If you're a 10-handicapper, there is no way you're breaking 100 out there," the 12-times major winner said. "If you played all out on every shot, there is no way.
"You just have to be so patient and on top of that you've got to be strong coming out of the rough and you've got to have unbelievable touch on the greens. Most 10-handicappers I know don't have that."
Although Cabrera's winning total matched the five over posted by Australia's Geoff Ogilvy to win last year's US Open at Winged Foot, Oakmont was described by most of the players as difficult but fair.
American Scott Verplank, who tied for seventh after closing with a 72, said: "I'm not going to call it unfair. It was unbelievably difficult.
"In those conditions, as dry as everything is and as fast as the fairways and greens were rolling, it wasn't unfair but it's unlike any other golf course you ever see."