Monday, 17 June 2013
Justin Rose - US Open Champion  (Getty Images)
Justin Rose - US Open Champion (Getty Images)
Justin Rose produced a sensational level par final round to overcome a rollercoaster last day and win the US Open Championship at Merion.

The Englishman held tough on an amazing final day in Pennsylvania, his closing 70 giving him a one over par total and enough to finish two clear of Jason Day and Phil Mickelson – who had to endure the heartbreak of a sixth runner-up finish in the event on his 43rd birthday.

Rose started badly with a bogey at the third, but responded well and stood one clear on the final tee.

The 18th on Merion’s East Course did not yield a single birdie over the weekend, but nobody got nearer than Rose – who split the fairway and, from within a club length of Ben Hogan’s plaque, fired a superb iron which was unfortunate to run through the green. 

An ingenious three-wood from the fringe stopped a couple of rotations short of the cup, but there were tears in the eyes of Rose as he tapped in for par on Fathers’ Day 11 years after the passing of his Dad and mentor Ken.

"What a day," an emotional Rose said.

"I don't know what to say, I'm thrilled. I just kept telling myself that (making bogeys) is what everyone is doing.

"You saw me look to the heavens with it being Father's Day - I was just trying to remember my dad."

It completes a remarkable rise to the top for Rose, 15 years after he burst onto the scene as a 17 year old amateur by finishing tied for fourth in The Open Championship at Birkdale.

His professional career began with 21 consecutive missed cuts, but a first European Tour win arrived in 2002 and there has rarely been a backward step since.

A first World Golf Championships title at last year’s Cadillac Championship confirmed the 32 year old’s status in the upper echelons of the game, and he was one of Europe’s leading lights in the miraculous Ryder Cup victory at Medinah – where again Mickelson was on the receiving end of his brilliance in the Sunday singles.

Tony Jacklin was the last Englishman to win the US Open in 1970 - ten years before Rose was born - while Nick Faldo was the last to win a Major in the 1996 Masters Tournament.

But Rose had said after the second round that he knew "deep down" he could win a Major and held his nerve on a dramatic final day, carding five birdies and five bogeys.

Mickelson's closing 74 saw him finish two shots behind Rose in a share of second with Australian Jason Day (71), with Jason Dufner, Open Champion Ernie Els, Billy Horschel and Hunter Mahan two shots further back.

Luke Donald, who played with Rose, recovered from a front nine of 42 to come home in 33 and finish alongside Steve Stricker on six over. Stricker hit two shots out of bounds, the second of them a dreaded shank, to take eight on the par five second.

Rose began the day two shots off the lead held by Mickelson, but with Merion playing havoc with the leading groups an outward nine containing three birdies and two bogeys was enough to give him a one shot lead.

A three-putt bogey on the 11th dropped Rose back alongside Mahan before Mickelson reignited his challenge for a fifth Major title with a moment of brilliance.

The left-hander, who flew home to California on Monday and attended his daughter's eighth-grade graduation on Wednesday evening before flying back overnight for a 7:11am start on Thursday, had three-putted the third and fifth for double bogeys and reached the turn in 39.

And he then missed the fairway on the short par four tenth - ranked the second easiest all week - only to hole his approach from the rough from 76 yards for an eagle to jump back to the top of the leaderboard.

Rose must have heard the enormous roar from the crowds but promptly hit his second shot to the 12th to two feet for birdie and then holed from 20 feet for another at the 13th to reclaim the lead before the forecast rain arrived to make life even more difficult as he began the daunting closing stretch.

The last five holes were all ranked among the nine toughest for the week, with the 18th the hardest at an average of 4.71. The good news for Mickelson was that he had played that stretch in one under par; the bad news for Rose was that he had done so in six over.

The 14th duly cost Rose a shot when he found a greenside bunker with his approach as the heaviest spell of rain came down, but Mickelson - carrying five wedges and no driver - used one of those wedges to fire his tee shot on the 13th over the green and drop a shot.

Rose then charged his birdie putt on the 16th well past the hole and missed the return to drop back into a three-way tie, only for Mickelson to bogey the 15th having opted to chip from on the green after being left with an awkward putt through the fringe.

Mahan took six on the same hole to fall two behind and Rose safely parred the 17th to head to the 18th tee with a one shot lead over Mickelson and Day, who then bogeyed the last.

However, the tap-in par was good enough to secure a superb win as Mickelson failed to chip in for the birdie he needed to force a play-off.

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