Justin Rose was the last man standing at a wet and wild Merion Golf Club on Sunday, winning the U.S. Open by two shots over Phil Mickelson and Jason Day. Rose, the first English winner of the U.S. championship since Tony Jacklin in 1970, made five birdies and five bogeys but the par on 18 was enough to earn the victory.
The 32-year-old Rose overcame the overnight lead by Phil Mickelson, who was hoping to cadge his first-ever U.S. Open after five runner-up finishes. Alas, it was not to be for the fan favorite four-time major winner, who turned 43 on Father’s Day.
It's no surprise that it came down to the final holes for Rose. A bogey on the par-4 16th made it a three-way tie at the top with Mickelson and Hunter Mahan. It was his fourth three-putt of the week and came at a bad time in the match for him.
He made up for the deficit quickly. On what Johnny Miller called "the most important tee shot of his life," Rose split the fairway on 18 and drilled his approach shot past the hole. Using a fairway metal from the secondary cut at the back of the green, Rose came up just short of birdie and tapped in for par and a final-round 70.
An emotional Rose wiped away tears and hugged playing partner and fellow Englishman Luke Donald. It the 37th major start for Rose, who broke down in the clubhouse as he watched Mickelson finish his round.
Mickelson, who was living on the edge as putt after putt slid by the hole, got his fans roaring when he holed out for an eagle-2 on the par-4 10th hole from 74 yards with one of the five wedges he put in his bag for the week. The Thrill watched intently as his dead-on approach shot found the bottom of the cup, the crowd cheered wildly, and Phil proved once more that white men can’t jump.
After a bogey on the 13th, Mickelson buried a clutch par putt on 14 to remain at 1-over, giving Phil Nation yet another reason to roar.
He missed a golden opportunity when his birdie putt on 16 slipped by the hole on the left. His tee shot to the par-3 17th just missed sticking on the upper tier and resulted in a par.
"That wasn’t what he wanted," Miller said of his shot to the green.
Needing a birdie on 18 to force a playoff, Mickelson’s tee shot found the rough. With 224 yards to the hole, he came up just short of the green and, unable to chip in for a bird, it was just another too-little/too-late yet again for Phil.