Justin Rose ended all doubts on Sunday afternoon at Merion Golf Course that he could win a major golf championship. Since breaking onto the scene in 1998 at the British Open, the 32 year-old Englishman, who was born in South Africa, has spent 14 years trying to prove himself worthy of a title. He became the first Englishman to win a major title since Nick Faldo won the 1996 Masters, and the first Englishman to win a US Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970.
Although Rose is a workaholic that has superior “Ball Striking” capabilities, he has had a whole in his short game. After overhauling his wedge game, and improving his putting stroke, he became a contender when he beat, Phil Mickelson in the Sunday finale at the Ryder Cup last September. Medinah provided the tough world-class competition that would at last turn Justin Rose into a winner.
When there is a winner, there is always a loser. The loser on Father’s Day was again Phil Mickelson. I say again, because this is the sixth time Lefty has played bridesmaid to someone else at the one tournament he covets. Phil has three Green Jackets, and one Wanamaker Trophy on his mantel, but no US Open Trophy, and no Claret Jug.
I don’t get the feeling the 43 year-old Mickelson cares that much about the Claret Jug, but It is on the record that he wants a US Open trophy before he decides to retire.
Some of Phil’s Father’s Day frustrations have been due to someone playing better as Justin Rose did this year at Merion, and the 15 foot putt that Payne Stewart made in 1999 at Pinehurst on the 72nd hole to break his heart. Others like Winged Foot in 2006 when he gave the title away because of dumb playing decisions. Those dumb decisions are, after-all, what we love about Phil, but they have cost him a few titles.
On Sunday at Merion, it was probably the two double bogeys he made early in the final round that cost him a title this year. This was the easy part of the Merion Monster, and where he should have made at the very least pars. The place where I felt he lost the tournament was at the short par three 13th hole.
On a hole that all of the contenders were making birdies and pars, Phil blew his tee shot over the green into the heavy rough, and took a four. That is where he lost his sixth US Open.
The accolades on this day go deservedly to Justin Rose. Rose went out on Sunday and took this tournament away from Phil, Jason Day, and the rest of the contenders who had brief appearances on the leaderboard.
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