He wasn't the people's choice, but Justin Rose, an overnight success 15 years in the making, grabbed the 2013 U.S. Open by the throat with a clutch final-round 70 — the only score among the leaders to equal par. His 1-over finish gave him an unexpected but well-deserved two-shot win over Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.
Rose, who contended as an amateur at the 1998 British Open, becomes the first Englishmen to win a major since Nick Faldo in 1996, beating heralded countrymen Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter to the punch. Rose's fairway metal from the fringe on the 72nd hole set up a clinching par and was a fittingly creative end to an Open that saw more changes in fortune than the financial meltdown.
On Father's Day, an emotional Rose credited his teacher/father, who died of cancer in 2002, with making him the golfer and man he is. "I couldn't help but look up at the heavens and think that old Ken had something to do with it," he said.
Rose also gave a shout-out to Masters champion Adam Scott for a confidence boost.
"I took a lot of encouragement from Adam Scott. … He sent me a beautiful text. He said, 'Your time is coming soon.' He's a wise man."
Philly Mick Falls Short Again
What can you say about the latest Lefty loss? The weekend was setting up beautifully for Mickelson, who posted a brilliant opening-round 67 at a surprisingly brutal Merion track, then held steady to take a one-stroke lead into the final round.
Finally, it seemed, the demons would be exorcised. Finally, the tournament that owed him one after two decades of heartbreak would yield to the will of his legion of followers. Lefty would celebrate his 43rd birthday and Father's Day with a trophy that he covets more than any other in the embrace of his loving family.
And when he erased one of his two early double bogeys with scintillating eagle 2 on No. 10 to retake the lead, it seemed that destiny was smiling on proud papa Mickelson.
Here's the Philadelphia eagle that electrified Merion and unleashed another ungainly Lefty Leap.
But two bogeys down the stretch and far too many burned edges and missed opportunities left Lefty the hard-luck loser yet again.
"This was my best chance. I was playing well on a golf course I really liked," said a candid, emotional Mickelson afterwards. "I hit good putt after good putt that I couldn't get to fall. I don't know what I would do different.
"When I made the eagle, it made me relax. It got me back to even, about where you think the winning score will be."
But mis-clubbed wedges at 13 and 15 led to crippling bogeys, followed by a makeable birdie miss at 16.
And another unhappy Father's Day.
The Week's Real Winner: Merion Golf Club
They said Merion was too short and too easy. They were dead wrong. Lee Westwood put it best with a succint tweet: "If Merion would have played dry this week like the USGA wanted, it would have been impossible."
It came darn close. The tight fairways and gnarled, rain-enhanced rough claimed victim after victim, including the world's top two players, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who finished 13-over and 14-over, respectively. "I'll look back at the things I did right and the things I did wrong. … I did a lot of things right. Unfortunately, I did a few things wrong," Woods said. After a 13-over finish, I'd say more than a few.