HUNTINGTON BEACH — Over the final few days of the 2012 Nike U.S. Open of Surfing, Julian Wilson earned the moniker, Comeback Kid.
The 23-year-old Aussie, ranked 10th in the world, started earning the nickname Saturday when he rallied to eliminate local favorite and two-time U.S. Open Men's champion Brett Simpson in the Men's Prime Round of 16. In the quarterfinals later that day, Wilson came back to knock off John John Florence of Hawaii. On Sunday , the name stuck for good when he hit a big wave score in the final minute of his semifinal heat, to slip past Gabriel Medina of Brazil.
Despite registering three comeback wins just to make it to Sunday's Men's final, Wilson, a native and resident of Coolum Beach, Queensland, Australia, needed no such dramatics against another Brazilian, Miguel Pupo.
Wilson grabbed the lead early in the 35-minute finals heat and went on to outscore Pupo, 17.53 to 14.76, to win the title and a $100,000 check. His victory, his first at the U.S. Open, capped a nine-day run of surfing competition at the Huntington Beach Pier.