Justin Rose Outplays Phil Mickelson to Win U.S. Open

Phil Mickelson has been so close at the U.S. Open before. Five times he finished as the tournament’s runner-up in his 20+ year career. Heading into the final round of the 2013 U.S. Open, it looked like Mickelson was ready to finally win the championship that has long eluded him. Unfortunately, Sunday marked the sixth runner-up finish for Mickelson, who finished two strokes behind Englishman Justin Rose in the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Philadelphia.

Mickelson shot a four over par 74 on Sunday that included two double bogeys in his first five holes. Mickelson trailed the leaders by one shot after his first nine holes, but responded with a holed wedge shot for eagle on the short par 4 tenth hole that propelled Mickelson into the lead. But Mickelson struggled on the back nine as well, making bogeys at thirteen and fifteen.

Meanwhile, Englishman Justin Rose was putting a nice Sunday round together behind the scenes. Starting the day at +1, Rose birdied three holes (4, 6, and 7) on the first nine holes to pull to even par at the turn. Rose birdied the 12th and 13th holes to take the lead at -1, and held on for the final five holes. The tough stretch of 14 thru 18 proved difficult even for Rose, who bogeyed two holes coming in. He nearly holed out a birdie approach on 18 before making par to take the clubhouse lead at -1.

Meanwhile, Mickelson, two groups behind, had to come from behind to force a playoff. On the par 4 16th hole, Mickelson missed a ten foot birdie putt by an inch on the lip of the hole. He failed to convert a long birdie putt at 17, and stood before the 18th hole needing to make birdie to force “extra innings”. His drive found thick rough on the left side of the hole, and his second shot failed to reach the green. After missing his approach shot on 18 by a few feet, Mickelson had once again fallen victim to being a U.S. Open runner-up. “I had come so close to getting the ball in the hole, and I just couldn’t get it in the hole,” Mickelson claimed. He turned 43 on Sunday.

Rose, 32, became the fifth straight winner of the U.S. Open to win his first career major. “Philadelphia is my town,” Rose said after the victory. He previously won the 2010 AT&T National tournament held at nearby Aronimink Golf Club in West Philadelphia. After holing his final putt, Rose pointed to the skies above and held back tears towards his late father Ken, who taught a young Rose how to play the game.

World #1 Tiger Woods struggled mightily at Merion, finishing in a tie for 32nd place at +13. #2 Rory McIlroy and #3 Adam Scott also struggled to finishes of +14 and _15, respectively. Defending champion Webb Simpson finished at +13 as well. Plenty of players were close to Rose and Mickelson on Sunday as well. Charl Schwartzel birdied his first hole to tie the lead briefly, but struggled late and finished at +8. Playing partner Steve Stricker, also seeking his first major victory, made a triple bogey on the second hole and finished at +6. Jason Day tied Mickelson for second place at +3, and Hunter Mahan, who held the lead for much of the first nine holes, finished at +5.

For many weeks, the golfing community questioned whether Merion Golf Club, playing less than 7,000 yards, would hole up with advances in technology and distance in the game today. Inches of rain early in the week exacerbated prospects of low scores, and some believed scores would trump -10. However, nobody finished the tournament under par, and the best round of the tournament was three-under par 67. For all the criticism and controversy of Merion as a host course, the Philadelphia venue proved it could live up to its storied past. Bobby Jones completed his Grand Slam in 1930, Ben Hogan hit his famous one iron and won in 1950, Trevino outdueled Nicklaus in 1971. And Justin Rose now owns his own piece of Merion history in 2013, a story sure to last a lifetime.

 

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