Justin Rose an emotional and popular champion at Merion
Phil Mickelson second for the sixth time as victor ends England’s long wait for a Major winner
ustin Rose of England looks to the heavens in acknowledgement of his deceased father after putting on the 18th hole to complete the final round of the 113th US Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
ustin Rose kisses his wife Kate as he walks off the 18th green. Photograph: Adam Hunger/Reuters
Justin Rose of England kisses the US Open trophy after victory at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Some scripts work out to plan, others are torn to shreds. Justin Rose, who experienced his fair share of travails in the early part of his career when missing cut after cut, finally found the promised land when landing the 113th US Open at famed Merion Golf Club and, as fate would have it, Phil Mickelson was – again – the one left to rue missing out.
Rose, in securing a maiden Major title and the first by an English golfer since Nick Faldo’s win in the Masters in 1991, shot a final round 70 for 181, one over, which gave him a two-stroke winning margin over Mickelson, on his 43rd birthday, who finished runner-up for a record sixth time in the championship.
In a final round where the old course again showed its wicked side, Rose demonstrated tremendous composure. When all around him others were losing out to frustration, as heavy rough and brutally tight pin positions took their toll, Rose – whose only frailty came with a three-putt bogey on the 16th – closed the deal and retreated to the sanctuary of the scorer’s hut to bide his time.
When Hunter Mahan bowed to the pressure of the chase and, then, and more importantly, Mickelson failed to find the required birdie on any of the closing holes, Rose could finally allow himself to wallow in the new status as champion.
Mickelson’s closing bogey actually saw him shoot a 74, which brought him into a two-way share of second with Australian Jason Day.
It was a day best forgotten for some.
Luke Donald, who got to watch each and every one of playing partner Rose’s 70 strokes, had a catastrophic start which saw him double-bogey the sixth on the back of three straight bogeys from the third hole.
Others struggled too, with Steve Stricker’s triple-bogey eight on the second ending his quest for a first Major before it ever got going.
The title had seemed destined for Mickelson: on his birthday, and going into the final round with the memory of five runners-up finishes in the championship. Lefty – who had delayed turning up until just hours before his tee time last Thursday so that he could attend his daughter’s graduation from school – was the people’s champion.
Or so it seemed.
Undeterred, Rose went about ripping up Mickelson’s script; and wrote his own.
“Every time I think of the US Open I just think of heartbreak,” said Mickelson, who double-bogeyed two of his opening five holes to make life difficult and ultimately impossible for himself. “For me it’s very heart breaking.
“This could have been a really big turnaround for me on how I look at the US Open and the tournament that I’d like to win, after having so many good opportunities.”
Of course, Mickelson contributed to the drama when holing out from rough with a 54-degree gap wedge for an eagle on the 10th. If that audacious shot seemed as if it would energise his round, it didn’t and, when he overshot the short 13th green and ran up a bogey, the door was opened for whoever wanted to walk through it.