Justin Rose captures U.S. Open title

England's Justin Rose holds the U.S. Open Trophy after winning the 2013 U.S. Open Sunday....

England's Justin Rose holds the U.S. Open Trophy after winning the 2013 U.S. Open Sunday. (REUTERS/Matt Sullivan)

JON McCARTHY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:52 PM ET

ARDMORE, PA. - Justin Rose found a place in golf history with Ben Hogan.

How could it get any better?

The 32-year-old Englishman made par at Merion’s 18th hole on the strength of a basket-seeking 229-yard 4-iron and won the 113th U.S. Open.

Visions of Hogan’s iconic 1-iron to the same hole in 1950 were dancing in Rose’s mind Sunday.

“When I walked over the hill and saw my drive sitting perfectly in the middle of the fairway, with the sun coming out, it was kind of almost fitting,” Rose said. “And I just felt like at that point it was a good iron shot onto the green, two putts, like Hogan did, and possibly win this championship.”

Rose’s towering approach at the 18th never left the proper line, landed on the green and rolled just by the back pin before settling in the fringe.

“I felt like I did myself justice and probably put enough of a good swing where Ben Hogan might have thought it was a decent shot, too,” Rose said.

Rose filled his scorecard with circles and squares, making five birdies and five bogeys en route to an even-par 70 fourth round Sunday and a one-over total of 281 and his first major victory.

After nearly holing his shot from the fringe with a delicate 3-wood shot, Rose tapped in a two-incher and waited to see if Phil Mickelson could catch him.

He couldn’t.

Mickelson needed a birdie on the 18th to force a playoff but drove his ball in the rough and was left with a Hail Mary pitch from short of the green. It didn't go in and the U.S. Open trophy went to Rose.

Rose burst onto the golf scene as an 18-year-old amateur at Royal Birkdale in England during the 1998 British Open. The skinny teen chipped in at the 72nd hole to claim a share of 4th place. Mighty expectations followed and, only now, have they been fully realized.

“I sort of announced myself on the golfing scene probably before I was ready to handle it,” he said. “And golf can be a cruel game and definitely I have had the ups and down, but I think that ultimately it's made me stronger and able to handle the situations like today, for example.”

After making the par putt on the final hole, Rose pointed a finger to the sky in a fitting Father's Day tribute to his dad Ken, who died when Justin was just 21 years old.

“I think my dad always believed that I was capable of this,” Rose said. “He always also did say when he was close to passing away, he kind of told my mom, don't worry, Justin will be okay. He'll know what to do.”

Rose is coached by Canadian Sean Foley, who also coaches Tiger Woods and Hunter Mahan.

For a time Sunday it seemed that it might be the day Mickelson exorcised his U.S. Open demons.

After making two double bogeys on the front nine, the five-time U.S. Open runner-up holed out for eagle at the 10th hole with a full-swing 76-yard wedge shot from the rough.

Mickelson was in the rough off the tee all week long and missing the fairway at the final hole killed his chances.

The popular left-hander, who has been punched in the gut by this tournament his entire career, was asked if this was the worst of the worst.

“I would say it very well could be,” he said. “I think this was my best chance.”

All week long Mickelson was raving about the course and the USGA’s difficult setup and he dreamed of adding his name to the great history of Merion and pulling off a birthday-Father’s Day-U.S. Open trifecta.

It was not to be.

“It would have changed way I look at this tournament altogether and the way I would have looked at my record,” he said. “Except I just keep feeling heartbreak.”

Mickelson wasn’t alone in that regard.

Merion broke the hearts of all but one of the leaders Sunday.

Australia’s Jason Day bogeyed at the 14th and the finishing hole to end up in a tie for second with Mickelson at three-over.

“As long as I keep knocking on the door, I think I'll win a major here soon,” the 25-year-old Day said.

With leaders dropping like flies all day, American Jason Dufner made an early charge and threatened to post a low number and hide in the clubhouse. Dufner was five-under on the day before a triple bogey on hole No. 15 brought him back to reality. He finished tied for fourth with Ernie Els, Billy Horschel and Hunter Mahan at five-over.

Mahan fell apart down the stretch and Horschel and his octopus pants stumbled out of the gate, bogeying three of his first five holes.

Tiger Woods shot himself out of contention Saturday and continued his poor play Sunday, carding a four-over 74 that included an eight on the par-5 second hole after hitting his drive out of bounds.

Woods finished the tournament at 13-over par in a tie for 32nd. His major drought continues with Sunday being five years to the day that he won his last major, the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

“There's always a lesson to be learned in every tournament whether you win or lose,” Woods said.”I'll look back at the things I did right and the things I did wrong.”

Woods’ pal Rory McIlroy had an equally disappointing week, finishing one stroke worse at 14-over.

“That’s what this tournament does to you,” McIlroy said. “At one point or another it gets the better of you, and it definitely did this weekend.”

The world No. 2 tried to remain positive despite his poor finish this week and having no wins this season.

“I sound like a broken record, but I don’t feel my game is that far away,” McIlroy said.

Canadians Mike Weir and David Hearn both played well in their final round. Weir was one of six players to break par with a one-under 69 and leaves Merion with renewed confidence that his game is on the right track.

Hearn shot a one-over 71 Sunday and finished the tournament at 11-over. Hearn got off to an awful start Thursday before playing the final three rounds in three-over par.

In the end, Merion had the last laugh.

After months of talk that the course was too short to test the world’s best players, nobody could break par.

The tight ribbon fairways demanded that a player be able to work his tee shot both ways and with accuracy. Its mix of short and long holes kept the players off balance and the greens befuddled the game’s best players. Early in the week it was the slopes of the greens, on the weekend it was the speed.

The closing five holes might be the toughest finishing stretch the players have ever seen. Over the four days, the five holes gave up just one eagle and 138 birdies compared to 741 bogeys, 151 double bogeys and 39 triples or worse.


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