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
Day made a tremendous effort, until he bogeyed two of his last five holes. And when the toughest questions were asked, Rose was up to the task. It was far from easy or straightforward, as five birdies along with five bogeys testified.
His back-to-back birdies on the 12th and 13th were followed, though, by bogeys on the 14th – where he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker – and the 16th, when he three-putted. But he held his nerve on the tough 17th and the unforgiving 18th to finish par-par.
On the last, he boomed a drive down the middle of the fairway. Tempting fate almost, the ball landed just behind the plaque which commemorated Ben Hogan’s famed one-iron approach to the 72nd hole in the 1950 US Open. Taking up the challenge, Rose hit a mid-iron approach that covered the pin and ran through to the back of the green.
“I saw my ball in the fairway I thought ‘this is my moment’,” he said afterwards. “You know, I have seen that Ben Hogan photograph a million times and suddenly it was me hitting middle of the fairway. I just tried not to get too ahead of myself. I hit a beautiful four iron into the green. I’m just so glad it all worked out.”
Using a fairway wood, he rolled his birdie attempt which finished on the lip. It was enough. The tap-in marked his rise in status to that of a Major champion, and those 21 successive missed cuts that marked the start to his professional life on tour were very much a thing of the past.
“It’s been too long, really,” said Donald, commenting on the long gap – some 68 Majors – since Faldo’s triumph. “I think we’ve had a lot of talent come out of England and hopefully we’ve broken our bad period. This will be a great week for Justin and for England.”
Rose, who first burst onto the golfing scene when finishing fourth as a teenage amateur in the 1998 British Open at Birkdale, finally, bridged that gap.
On the day that was in it, he dedicated the win to his late father Ken, who passed away after a long battle with cancer in 2002.
“You saw me look to the heavens with it being Father’s Day — I was just trying to remember my dad. I don’t know what to say, I’m thrilled.”