In the midst of stories about Phil Mickelson and his quest for his first US Open title, Englishman Justin Rose emerged, from virtual obscurity, to grab his first major title.
Rose entered Sunday’s final round at +1, just 2 shots behind the dominant Mickelson for the lead, but as the round teed off, there was very little discussion. However, Rose managed to shoot an ultra-impressive 70 (even par at Merion), and as a result, outlasted both Mickelson and the rest of the field for the win with a finishing score of 1-over-par (281).
The 32-year-old Rose took the lead for the first time on Sunday after the 15th hole, in which Mickelson and Hunter Mahan bogeyed while Rose made par. There was still big-time drama as the round completed, as Rose posted his +1 score with Mickelson still on the course, and Phil had the opportunity to match Rose to cause an 18-hole playoff with a birdie on the closing hole.
However, Mickelson saw his drive sprayed into no man’s land, and by the time he reached the green, he was charged with a nearly impossible chip for the tie. When that shot went begging (despite a solid effort, actually), Rose celebrated in the clubhouse, and the first major of his career was his.
It was the first US Open win in 43 years for the country of England, but even with several quality story lines surrounding the champion, Phil Mickelson certainly garners the majority of the headlines. Even with his bogey on the 18th hole, Mickelson tied for 2nd place, and it was the 6th such finish of his career. Frankly, six separate 2nd-place finishes at one major event is staggering, and Mickelson’s stigma at the “national tournament” continues.
It would be a mistake to focus too much on the runner-up, however, and Justin Rose is a highly deserving champion. Finishing at just 1-over-par at the Merion course this weekend is incredibly impressive, and when the likes of Tiger Woods (+13), Rory McIlroy (+14), and Sergio Garcia (+15) shoot astronomical scores, it makes Rose’s effort all the more positive. Congratulations to the 2013 US Open champion, and remember, the focus should be on the victor, even when he isn’t as high-profile as the runner-up.