US Open golf: Rose breaks Major duck at Merion

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Englishman ends 43-year barren run

Justin Rose opened his Major account in some style as he captured the US Open by two strokes at Merion – the victory also gave England their first Major win since 1996 and their first US Open champion since Tony Jacklin in 1970.

The 32-year-old finished the week at one over thanks to nothing worse than a 71 and his final round of 70 included five birdies.

But what was equally as impressive were the two closing pars which left Phil Mickelson needing a birdie at the 72nd, a hole which had failed to yield a birdie for the last two rounds. The left-hander had his caddy tend the pin from 40 yards away but eventually bogeyed.

Others came and went; Jason Day led around the turn but three bogeys in the last eight holes left him at three over while, at one stage with bogeys and doubles coming from every corner of the course, it looked as though the likes of Jason Dufner or Ernie Els at +5 might sneak into a play-off. 

But Rose, playing in his 37th Major, held firm and then progressed while others went into reverse. Where he has previously struggled, on the greens, he dazzled with a huge putt at the 6th in amongst five birdies in 10 holes in the middle of his round.

Three putts at the 16th caused a brief moment of concern but a tee shot pin high at the tricky 17th and two perfect shots at the fiendish last, the approach from beside the famous Ben Hogan plaque, meant he could nudge a fairway wood from the fringe to the side of the cup.

Clearly emotional he pointed to the skies, his father and coach Ken died in 2002.

“What a day,” Rose said. “I don’t know what to say, I’m thrilled. I just kept telling myself that (making bogeys) is what everyone is doing.

“You saw me look to the heavens with it being Father’s Day – I was just trying to remember my dad.”

But Rose, playing in his 37th Major, held firm and then progressed while others went into reverse.
The local favourite and birthday boy Phil Mickelson had enjoyed a relatively steady championship but this was back to the rollercoaster days. Double bogeys at the 3rd and 5th sandwiched a birdie before he then holed a pitch shot at the 10th to move clear again.

But poor short irons at 13 and 15 let him down and a closing bogey moved Day back into a share of second, the sixth time the left-hander had finished as the US Open runner-up.

As for Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy it was a week to forget. Woods finished with his highest four-round total in a Major at +13, a treble bogey at the 2nd his low point.

McIlroy’s moment to forget came when he snapped a wedge after finding the water at the 11th, an eight being the eventual result.

And so to Muirfield and the search for a 15th Major for Tiger goes on – this was the fifth anniversary of his last Major victory ­– but Rose has now brought a very satisfactory end to the question of when the next Englishman would break through. 

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