Featured Golf News
A Rose Blooms at Merion
Justin Rose survived a tough golf course and the final-round heat to win the 113th U.S. Open on Father's Day. The 32-year-old Englishman closed with an even-par 70 on the East Course at Merion Golf Club for his first major title, and become the first Brit to win a major since Nick Faldo at the 1996 Masters.
No player finished under par on Merion's sublimely difficult East Course. Rose's 70 gave him a 72-hole total of 1-over 281 on the historic par-70 layout.
The victory was particularly poignant for Rose, who lost his father and golf mentor, Ted, in 2002 to leukemia. Even though there was one competitor who could catch him, 54-hole leader Phil Mickelson, who still had the lengthy par-4 18th to play and, with a birdie, could have forced an 18-hole playoff on Monday, when Rose tapped in for par on the last he pointed skyward in homage to his late father. The tears then flowed.
Mickelson closed with a disappointing 74 to end up tied for second at 283 with Australia's Jason Day, who posted a 71.
Rose mixed in five birdies with a like number of bogeys to overcome a two-stroke deficit to Mickelson entering Sunday. His two pars on the brutal final two holes, the par-3 17th and the par-4 18th, were his keys to victory and in his becoming the first U.S. Open winner from England since Tony Jacklin in 1970.
"Today's Father's Day . . . I think a lot of come from great men," Rose said during the awards ceremony. "Today I carried myself well . . . I just couldn't help but look up to the heavens and think that my old dad Ken had something to do about it.
"I just tried not to get too far ahead of myself," he added of playing the 18th hole. "I hit a beautiful 4-iron in."
Mickelson's closing 74 helped extend his record number of second-place finishes. The four-time major champion, who turned 43 Sunday, has now ended up as the runner-up on six occasions.
He got off to a tough start, recording two double-bogeys - and a birdie - on the first five holes followed by four pars to make the turn in 3-over 39. Things got immediately better for Mickelson on the home half when his fairway approach at the par-4 10th rolled into the cup for an eagle.
But Mickelson couldn't make a meaningful putt all day, and added three more bogeys coming home for a 1-over 35. "Very heartbreaking," he told a TV reporter later. "This is probably the toughest for me."
Lefty's closest pursuers also fell by the wayside. All were only a stroke back coming into the final round. Playing with Mickelson in the final group, Hunter Mahan shot a 75 to end up fourth at 285.
South Africa's Charl Schwartzel birdied the first hole, but it was all downhill from there as the 2011 Masters champion shot a 78 to drop into 14th at 288.
And Steve Stricker couldn't overcome a disastrous triple-bogey on the second hole. The Wisconsin native, seeking his first Grand Slam title and hoping to become the oldest major champion ever at age 46, hit his tee shot out-of-bounds on the par-5 and then, after placing his second drive in the fairway, shanked his next shot OB en route to scoring a 5-over 41 on the front nine. A birdie and two bogeys on the back side gave Stricker a 35 and a 76.
The low round of the day - and the lowest of the whole tournament, a 3-under 67, gave Jason Dufner a share of fourth at 285 with Ernie Els (69), Billy Horschel (74) and Mahan. Luke Donald shot a 75 to tie Stricker for eighth at 286. Dufner carded six birdies but was undone by a triple on the 15th hole.
Sunday's other 67 was posted by Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, who moved into a tie for 10th at 7-over 287 with Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts (72), Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (72) and Rickie Fowler (74).
Defending champion Webb Simpson closed with a 72 to end up in 32nd at 13-over 293.
The top-two players in the World Golf Ranking, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, continued their struggles in this U.S. Open. Woods had a 74 to share 32nd with Simpson, while McIlroy - the 2011 U.S. Open champion - had a 76 to end up at 14-over 294.
"I did a lot of things right," Woods said. "Unfortunately, I did a few things wrong as well."
In addition to the back-nine heroics of Rose - who finally won in his 37th Grand Slam tournament, the shot of the day came from Shawn Stefani, who aced the 246-yard 17th with a 4-iron. The Texan's tee shot hit a bank left of the green then bounced back onto the putting surface and rolled into the hole.
"It was kind of funny because I jumped up and really didn't know what to do," Stefani told PGATour.com. "But obviously all the guys that were around, gave them high fives. Then Scott Van Pelt was over there and I kind of walked over to him, I go, that's probably going to be a No. 1 on Sportscenter tonight. Which would be kind of cool."
After retrieving his ball from the hole, Stefani went over and kissed the knoll that directed his ball into the cup. "We're in Philly," he said. "There's some great fans up here, and I know they can be tough on you and they can love you forever. So I'm sure they appreciated me going to the ground and kissing it."
Michael Kim, a junior at Cal, emerged as the low amateur after closing with a 76 and a four-day total of 290. The amateur runner-up was Cheng Tsung Pan. The Taiwan native and junior-to-be on the University of Washington golf team also shot 76 and ended up at 295.
For all the scores, visit http://www.majorschampionships.com/us-open/leaderboard.html.