Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Getty Images)
Justin Rose may have taken the spoils at the US Open Championship, but he was far from the only European Tour Member to have reason to be pleased at Merion.
Just four European Tour Members had journeyed to Pennsylvania last time the event was staged at Merion, but there were five in the top ten this year as Ernie Els, Luke Donald, Nicolas Colsaerts and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño all put in strong showings.
Spain’s Fernandez-Castaño finished with a 72 for his first top-ten at Major Championship, finishing alongside Colsaerts at seven over par.
“I think I'm happy in a way,” he said. “I pretty much had the round under control every day.
“It's not that I had things get
away from me, so I have to be happy - this is the first time I've made the cut [at the US Open].
“I think I have to be happy. It is my best finish in a Major Championship, and especially on a really tough one like a US Open.
“When you play a US Open
, you know you're going to make bogeys, you just have to get away with it and just keep ploughing away and that's exactly what I did.
“Overall I think it's been a very good week. There are many positives to take out from this US Open and hopefully will make me a little stronger for future Majors.
“I think it's a good progression. I just need to keep working on the same things I'm doing and hopefully one Sunday I can find myself contending for one of these, because this is what it's all about, playing in these Major Championships and just feeling that pressure on the Sunday, which I think is good.”
South African Els started the day seven shots adrift, and his challenge looked to have ended with a double bogey at the fifth.
But The Open Champion birdied the seventh, 15th and 17th – the latter after a fine approach to three feet – and despite a bogey at the last held the clubhouse lead for a large part of the afternoon before finally finishing in a share of fourth.
“I hit a very nice shot - I was just trying to get as much out of my round as I could,” Els said of his four iron to the penultimate hole.
“Unfortunately I bogeyed 18, but some really nice shots, started playing the course the way it should be played.
“It's been an unbelievable venue this week. The course definitely held up -it was a great setup. The rough was tough, everything about it was just wonderful and the fans were unbelievable.”
Donald had victory hopes of his own when he started the day just two off the lead, and although they extinguished with an outward 32 he was delighted to see playing partner Rose end the 17-year wait for an English Major winner
“I think Justin for the last few years has been known as one of the best ball strikers in the game -he showed that today,” he said.
“To win a US Open, you have to have ultimate control of your golf ball. He did that. He hit some really clutch iron shots down the stretch, just a pure iron into 15.
“I’m sure it's going to be emotional for him. He obviously lost his father a few years ago, and I'm sure that little sign up to the sky was for his dad.
“I'm very happy for him. Justin is a good friend of mine and it's good to see him come out on top.”