Monday, June 17, 2013

What It Takes To Win - U.S. Open

Justin Rose broke Phil Mickelson's heart again on Sunday afternoon at Merion.  Remember late in 2012 when Rose saved par on No. 16 at the Ryder Cup, then birdied No. 17 and 18 for Europe's win while Mickelson looked on and handed out all the thumbs-ups he had in his bag for Rose? Well, the same thing happened again at the 2013 US Open, except this time Mickelson didn't have a front-row seat. Rose hit the shot of his life on No. 18 with a one-shot lead at the Open this time -- a hole nobody birdied in either of the last two days. Rose stroked an iron past the hole that missed the cup by inches.

He then two-putted for par to close out an even-par 70 that was enough to win the championship by two strokes.

A spectacular iron player, Rose didn't have his putter leave him on this day as he birdied five holes en route to the round of his life and his first major championship.

Mickelson battled hard -- including an eagle from the rough on No. 10 -- but two double-bogeys sunk him in the end as Rose brought England its first major since 1996 (Nick Faldo) and first US Open since 1970 (Tony Jacklin).

Here's a look at the scores put up by Justin Rose:
  • Round 1: 71 (1 over) - 4 Birdies, 9 Pars, 5 Bogeys
  • Round 2: 69 (1 under) 3 Birdies, 13 Pars, 2 Bogeys
  • Round 3: 71 (1 over) - 3 Birdies, 11 Pars, 4 Bogeys
  • Round 4: 70 (Even) - 5 Birdies, 8 Pars, 5 Bogeys
  • Total: 1 over par - 15 Birdies, 41 Pars, 16 Bogeys
It was Rose's 37th start in a major. He told Bob Costas of NBC after his round that he looked to Adam Scott after Scott's Masters win.

"I took a lot of encouragement from Adam Scott," Rose told Costas. "He said, 'Your time's coming soon.' "

Rose played with attitude all day, too. He was sneering at long par putts, fighting to stick his irons, and never really made that big mistake that sunk so many men on a wicked final day in Ardmore, Pa.

And oh, that iron he hit from the fairway on 18!

They'll talk about that one in pubs throughout the English countryside for decades. Rose told Costas after his round he was lost in the zone when he hit his 4-iron to the green.

"I thought, 'This is my moment.' I've seen that Ben Hogan photograph a million times."

Rose will likely be talking about the moment just after he sank the par. He pointed to the sky and the tears flowed. Even better, he broke down watching himself in the clubhouse shortly afterward with his wife.

As Trey Wingo of ESPN pointed out on Twitter, Rose lost his old swing coach and father, Ken, in 2002 to leukemia.

Rose mentioned it to Costas just after his round.

"I couldn't help but look up to the heavens and think that my old dad, Ken, had something to do with it."

Turns out, it's not just Lefty who has a beautiful Father's Day story.