Englishman Justin Rose fired a final round 70 to post 1-over-par 281 to defeat American Phil Mickelson and Australian Jason Day by two shots to win his first major championship as he hoisted the U.S. Open trophy Sunday evening at Merion Golf Club outside of Philadelphia. A group of four others finished another two shots back in T4.
Justin Rose began Sunday T5 and two shots behind 54-hole leader Phil Mickelson and tied with fellow Englishman Luke Donald, who was also looking for his first major. The Englishmen were paired on Sunday and were trying to master a golf course that had no problem showing her teeth all week. Rose was prescient on Saturday before his round on Saturday. He alluded that Saturday is usually known as “moving day” on TOUR but he would be thrilled to stay right where he was. Rose bogeyed Nos. 17 and 18 on Saturday to fall out of a tie for the lead but his tournament was far from over.
If you would have made a list of great ball-strikers before the week started, recent form omitted, you would have been hard to find anyone that would have topped Justin Rose. Stable mates Tiger Woods and Hunter Mahan would have been up there; so would Jason Dufner, Ernie Els and even up-and-comer Billy Horschel. Let’s take a minute to give Sean Foley props for getting his boys tuned in this week. If I would have told you Tiger Woods would have been the worst of the three, you probably would have laughed at me. Again.
Rose’s win this week shouldn’t have come as a surprise based on his pedigree in his victories. In his previous four wins he’s beaten the fields at Memorial, AT&T, BMW and WGC-Cadillac Championship. So that’s Jack’s tournament, Tiger’s tournament, a third-stage FEDEX Cup Playoff and a WGC event. That’s strong, like his ball-striking.
Entering the week, Rose had played in seven U.S. Opens and had made the cut in only three of them. The good news was his finishes were T5, T10 and T21 so if he does make the cut, he’s going to get after it. He’s now made the cut in the U.S. Open in back-to-back events for the first time.
Rose struck the ball beautifully, hit some monster putts and got up-and-down and the most crucial stages. That’s what a U.S. Open winner does. He was T2 in driving accuracy, T7 GIR, and T16 in total putts. Bravo, Rosey! I don’t think there were many of us gamers who thought that winning a major was out of the question with Rose, especially after his performance against Phil Mickelson last year in singles during the Ryder Cup. Mickelson couldn’t put him away then and he couldn’t put him away again today on the same big stage. Justin Rose made zero double bogeys this week.
With this victory, Rose collects $1,440,000 and 600 FedExCup points.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
In the last 10 U.S. Opens, seven have been won by internationals.
Since 2001, at the time of their U.S. Open victory, 12 of 13 winners have made this their first career major. Only Tiger Woods had a won a major championship before this period. Retief Goosen, Woods, Cabrera and McIlroy have since won another major. First-time major winners at the U.S. Open are officially a trend in my book.
Justin Rose becomes the first Englishman since Tony Jackin (1970) to win the U.S. Open.
Rose becomes the first Englishman since Nick Faldo (1996 Masters) to win a major.
Rose joins every other winner at Merion as a come-from-behind winner.
In the last 19 majors, there have been 18 different winners. Only Rory McIlroy has won multiple times. #freshmeat
Only 11 of the 54-hole leaders or co-leaders have gone on to win the 23 stroke-play events on the season.
There have been 25 tournaments this season. The Stars and Stripes have won 20 of them.
There have also been nine first-time winners this season. There have also been just two multiple winners, Woods (four) and Kuchar (WGC-Match Play; Memorial).
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson, D (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FOUR times (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar TWICE (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26), Ernst (22), Bae (26), Weekley (39) English (23) and Rose (32). The young folks (30 and younger) now have 10 victories; the 30-somethings have racked up a a baker’s dozen, 13 victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have their two wins. Phil Mickelson was T2 for the “old folks” for the second week running.
A look at the players who finished in the top 10
Phil Mickelson: The week started perfectly for the five-time runner-up but it ended with a whimper as the usual expert wedge player was let down by those clubs on Sunday. Sure, he holed out on No. 10 for eagle but he couldn’t capitalize on No. 13 or make any magic on No. 15 with those same clubs. He left the driver at home and was striping his irons but he’ll find no consolation in his putter that couldn’t fire on the back nine on Sunday. He’ll look back on that ten foot putt on No. 16 that would have tied the lead for a long time. Though he didn’t reward gamers with a win this week, back-to-back seconds didn’t exactly hurt gamers either.
Jason Day: He’s now 13-for-13 on the 2013 season and has finished third alone at the Masters and now T2 at the U.S. Open. He now has five top 10s in 11 career starts. I’m going to stop typing now. There’s nothing else I could write to convince you to put him in your line up for majors.
Hunter Mahan: In nine events since his runner-up finish at the WGC-Match Play, Mahan’s best finish was T16 at the Memorial so he was peaking at the right time. He’ll be disappointed with his play down the stretch but he won’t be upset with his best finish ever in a major. This is also his first top 10 in the majors since T8 in 2010 at Augusta.
Jason Dufner: It took event No. 14 of his 2013 season to hit the top 10 but Dufner and gamers will be encouraged to see his final round 67 push him to T4. His final round could have been even better but his driver on No. 15 found OB. I opined earlier in the week that I was going to avoid Dufner this tournament because of his recent form but he showed real class putting this performance together. Look for this result to spring him forward in the second half of the season.
Ernie Els: He seems to like major championships played in the state of Pennsylvania as he finishes T4 this weekend to go along with his win at Oakmont. After not being eligible for the 2012 Masters, Els has now made six cuts on the trot in the majors and has finishes of T4, T13, T48, WIN and T9. In his last four U.S. Opens he’s now finished T4, ninth, MC and third so like fine wine, Els is getting better with age on the biggest stage.
Billy Horschel: He was a true wild card entering this weekend as his only other major was after his freshman year at Florida when he went through sectional qualifying to play in the U.S. Open as an amateur. Horschel, in a season of firsts, has once again reaffirmed that he will be a player to be reckoned with from here on out. He had the audacity to hit 18-of-18 GIR in round 2 and wear squid pants in the final round of his country’s National Championship! He will be greatly helped in the future after watching fellow youngster Jason Day handle the pressure of a big Sunday in a major. For Horschel to hang on and finish T4 is outrageous for a guy playing his first major as a professional.
Luke Donald: Playing his 10th U.S. Open, Donald finally hit the top 10 with his T8 finish. His previous best finish was T12 in 2006. Donald struggles with tee shots and that was what ultimately did him in again this week. His chipping and putting is so good that it can make up for it to a degree and if there was a week that Donald was going to contend, it was going to be this week on a course under 7,000 yards. Donald, unsurprisingly, has made every weekend in the states this year (9-9).
Steve Stricker: His T8 finish is pretty good for a guy who’s doing more nothing than playing at the moment! Stricker,46, was looking to become the oldest champion since Hale Irwin, 45, in 1990, but his day was done after hitting a driver shockingly OB on No. 2 and then shanking an iron from the middle of the fairway on the same hole. Stricker went out in 41 but rallied for 35 on the back. I’ve learned that he’s going to play on the courses he thinks he’ll have a chance of winning this season. All in at the John Deere Classic, right?
Hideki Matsuyama: The young Japanese lad was lauded in our Wednesday chat by Rob Bolton and he lived up to the billing this week to finish T10. Not bad for his first U.S. Open and only fourth major of his young career. He’s 21 and has already won thrice on the Japan Golf Tour. He was also the Asian Amateur Champion in 2010. Just to show you this wasn’t a fluke, he was T27 and the low amateur at the 2010 Masters. Write his name down and cross off Ryo Ishikawa’s.
Nicolas Colsaerts: For the second year in a row the big hitting Belgian made waves at the U.S. Open as he finished T10. Last year, he held the lead briefly on the weekend before blowing up and finishing T27. This year, he blew up again on Saturday but found a way to gut-out a 72 on Sunday. He’s now found the top 10 three times in 2013 on U.S. soil.
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano: All the talk on Saturday was about Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy but the forgotten man in that three-some beat the pants off of both of them. His 72 was four shots better than Woods and three shots better than McIlroy. GFC has now made the cut in 10 of the 13 majors he’s featured in and has hit the top 10 for the third time in nine starts in the States in 2013. He’s received his special-member status on TOUR for 2013 so look for him to start picking up more events. It should be encouraging that he didn't fold in the face of world No. 1 and No. 2. That's not an easy ask.
Rickie Fowler: His 67 on Saturday was the round of the day and led to his best finish ever in five tries at the U.S. Open (T10). Fowler should have been on your radar this week after his 4-0 performance at Merion during the 2009 Walker Cup. Sometimes a course fits a player’s eye and Fowler showed this to be the case this week, regardless of his current form. Fowler now has two top 10s in 14 major starts.
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
I take a look back at what happened to the chalk
Tiger Woods: The favorite of just about everyone this week struggled again on the weekend of a major championship. Here’s what we’ve learned as gamers: the courses that he plays really well are the places that he’s won on before. If you are going to pull the trigger, you might as well do so in the most familiar places. There’s nothing I see in his game that puts me off except that he hasn’t played well on unfamiliar tracks.
Graeme McDowell: I don’t think many people expected 76-77 for the 2010 champion on a layout that wasn’t very long. As GMAC simply remarked via Twitter that’s just how U.S. Open golf goes sometimes. As Rob Bolton and I have mentioned in the past, there’s no point in reading into a performance like this. It’s a one-time event. Pick up the pieces and move on. GMAC will be just fine down the road.
Matt Kuchar: A respectable T28 sounds better than 12-over! Kuchar didn’t have a round over 74 nor a round better than 72 so he was solid this week but not spectacular. His major record still leaves a bit to be desired but he’s a must-play for weekly gamers otherwise.
Jim Furyk: After making nine bogeys, three doubles and a triple, it’s no surprise that Furyk wasn’t around for the weekend. It is a surprise when a player of his caliber in his own backyard doesn’t even show up on the radar. I am one of many who were disappointed that he didn’t fire this week. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back from this performance down the road.
Adam Scott: Another year, another year without a player winning the Grand Slam. That’s hardly a surprise as there are plenty of excellent players around the world. Scott continues to sputter in the U.S. Open as his best finish is T15 in 2012 at Olympic Club. That’s strange to me as well as he strikes it from the tee and into the green.
Sergio Garcia: He showed some maturity this week by not letting the crowd get into his head. He could have had fans ejected for heckling him but he opted to pass. Smart. He was heckled by Nos. 14 and 15 to the tune of 15-over this week. Those holes were tougher than the fans this week.
Keegan Bradley: He hit it everywhere and never got comfortable on the greens this week. It will be interesting to see if he can keep his emotions in check down the road in this event. Guys cannot win the U.S. Open playing without getting into and out of trouble. This was his first MC in a major.
Rory McIlroy: Three days playing with his chum Tiger Woods didn’t reflect on the scorecard this week. McIlroy struggled to get his putter going and, like Woods, never factored this week. Too many bogeys.
Fredrik Jacobson: He made 13 bogeys in 36 holes to miss the cut by a shot. His accuracy around and on the greens couldn’t make up for his loose ball-striking. Merion wins again.
Bill Haas: His record in majors should have pushed me away this week. I thought his ball-striking could see him contend. Firing 74-77 answered all of my questions.
Webb Simpson: Only three players have defended their U.S. Open titles so I’m not going to crucify Simpson. He along with Woods, Choi and Chappell posted 13-over. Most of you would have taken that foursome before the week started.
Charl Schwartzel: The South African who is renowned for his putting found himself in the penultimate group on Sunday but couldn’t buy anything on the greens and settled for 78 and 14th. Schwartzel’s excellent season continues but he’ll be disappointed with his final round as he was looking to add to his 2011 green jacket.
Brandt Snedeker: After making the cut on the number, Snedeker battled all the way back to T17 with 70-72 on the weekend. He made only three bogeys on the weekend (two doubles as well) and only six birdies on the week. That’s grinding, folks.
Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a live chat Wednesday at NOON ET at Rotoworld.com. We will be breaking down the field at the Travelers Championship and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget that you can follow Rob (https://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (https://twitter.com/GlassWGCL) on Twitter!