“This was truly the U.S. Open that nobody wanted to win
Over the course of four-plus excruciating hours no fewer than five men found themselves alone atop the leaderboard. Charle Schwartzel’s view there didn’t last too long, done in by a stretch of six bogeys and a double bogey over eight holes. Jason Day made his charge early, fell back a bit, but still managed to stay in the hunt until missing a 5-footer for par on the final hole.
And then there were three, deadlocked heading into the home stretch. Hunter Mahan and fan favorite Phil Mickelson.
Finally, Englishman Justin Rose, who is often considered “the best player never to win a Major.”
Until now. On a day when Merion gave little — and took away much more — the 32-year-old Rose proved the steadiest, shooting even-par 70 to win the Open by two strokes over both Mickelson and Day, with Mahan in a four-way tie for fourth.
As excruciating as another near miss had to be for Phil — he’ll be second-guessed from here to Pinehurst, next year ‘s Open site for electing to chip rather than putt up the sloping 15th green — it was equally as exhilarating for Rose. Starting the day two shots off the pace, Rose negotiated Merion’s narrow fairways and treacherous greens superbly under the pressure, though he seemed to leave the door open for his nearest competitors when he bogeyed No. 16.
Instead, Mickelson and Mahan promptly slammed it on themselves, Mickelson with his ill-fated chip and Mahan by three-putting for double bogey, followed by back-to-back bogeys. For the 31-year-old Mahan, despite the obvious disappointment, he’ll leave Merion feeling good about himself.
“I played hard until the end and can’t be disappointed or too down with the results,” said Mahan, who shared fourth with surging Jason Dufner (67), veteran Ernie Els and second-round co-leader Billy Horschel at plus-five. “It was brutally hard; a difficult test.”
“It wasn’t fun the last three holes to get birdies. Phil and I had great chances, but none of us could make it. It was rowdy and different today playing with Phil. I probably heard ‘Happy Birthday’ 18 times.
Especially for Rose.
“It feels fantastic,” said the 2011 winner here at Aronimink, who had many in the crowd reminding him of that. “Going forward this will give me a lot of confidence, thinking a childhood dream has come true.
“Doing it on Father’s Day is not lost on me. I thought about my father all day. I wanted to go out and be the man my Dad taught me to be.”
And Sunday his son, largely thanks to back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13 moments after Mickelson had holed a 75-yard wedge to draw even, is the U.S. Open champion.
Because Justin Rose finally was able to take command and win the Open no one else seemed to want.