Phil Mickelson termed his record sixth runner-up finish at his national championship in June "heartbreaking," but that doesn’t mean he can’t chuckle about his misfortunes with Justin Rose, the guy who squelched Lefty’s chances of finally overcoming his U.S. Open jinx.
During a reunion of sorts between the two Merion contestants at the HSBC Champions event in October, Rose needled his good-natured opening-round playing partner, who went on to win his first Claret Jug a month after his devastating loss on Father’s Day. After Mickelson asked the starter at Sheshan International to introduce him as the Open champion, Rose jumped in with his own request.
"I’ve always got along with Phil, and I had a little fun with him recently in Shanghai," Rose told Derek Lawrenson recently. "So I asked if [the starter] wouldn’t mind announcing me as the U.S. Open champ.
"I looked over at Phil and gave him a wink, and he was laughing. He enjoys the banter, and he’s certainly an inspiration."
Indeed, Rose, 33, looks to the Hall of Fame career of the 43-year-old as motivation and hopes to emulate the 42-time PGA Tour winner’s success.
"He was 33 when he won his first major and now he’s gone on to win five, as well as a virtual career grand slam if you count all those near-misses in the U.S. Open as one win," said Rose, who’s really the only one placing those bitter defeats in the "Win" column. "It shows to me that even if you have to wait until your early 30s to win your first, you can still go on and have a great career."
With that inaugural grand slam victory on his scorecard, Rose believes he’ll cadge a few more before he hangs up his spikes.
"This isn’t the time to reminisce and wallow," he said. "This is the time to crack on and win more. When you’re an old man you can sit on the verandah and reflect you were able to do it, but now is not the time. I need to look forward."
Whatever the future holds for the Englishman with a combined 11 PGA and European Tour Ws, Rose at least has shrugged off a moniker that’s anathema to any golfer.
"I’m glad I didn’t spend ages in that bracket of players who are considered the best not to have won a major," Rose said. "It’s just one more thing you have to deal with."