Justin Rose (+1) wins US Open; earns first career-major title
Justin Rose stood atop the leaderboard when it mattered most this weekend, giving him his first-career major title. Rose, 32, played even par for the final round and was in the clubhouse as Mickelson and the final groups played into 18, where Phil needed to hole his approach shot to tie. The victory is no doubt a career-defining one for Rose, as he becomes the first Englishman to win a major since Nick Faldo in 1996, and the first to win the US Open since 1970. Rose also moves up one spot to third in the World Golf Rankings, trading places with Matt Kuchar (now fourth).
Prior to the tournament, the biggest stories coming into the US Open were how the rain would affect the course; would Phil Mickelson’s red-eye travel/lack of preparation affect his play; and can Tiger rebound on the fifth anniversary of his last major win and get number 15. As of Sunday evening, only the first two of those three main storylines were being discussed, and for the opposite of the original reasons. For the first storyline, Merion had suffered a lot of rain the few days leading up to the tournament, and many analysts (and “wanna-be” analysts) were claiming we could see record-low numbers posted, going as low as (-15) or even (-20). The US Open typically owns the most difficult conditions of the season, and it was thought the rain would soften the course, slowing the normally ultra-fast green speeds and allowing the players to attack with precision. As the early groups went off Thursday morning, Ian Poulter birdied his first three holes, and the talk of how low the winning score would be even grew even more fever. However, those worries of super-low scores would soon be put to rest, as players missing the fairway found themselves in 4-plus inches of thick rough and unable to save par on short holes. As the weekend progressed, some were actually thankful the rains came, as the course may have played several strokes harder had it not poured prior to and at the start of the tournament.
The second storyline was also put to rest/turned around rather quickly. As most know, Mickelson didn’t arrive to Merion until very early Thursday morning, only a few hours before his tee time, after attending his daughter’s 8th grade graduation. Perhaps a three-hour rain delay only a few holes into the first round helped give him some extra rest (it was reported he took a quick nap during that time), as he carded four birdies and one bogey to take the first round lead with a (-3)/67 by one shot over Luke Donald. Phil went on to tie for the second round lead with Billy Horschel, and held a one-shot solo lead after the third round over Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan, the latter of which played in the final group with Phil on Sunday. However, Sunday was a day of flux, and the leaderboard was easily the most dynamic of the last couple of years as players struggled to play consistent. Mickelson made one of the shots of the tournament – holing out on number 10 from the fairway for an eagle – but he struggled overall making three bogeys and two double bogeys to go along with the eagle and only one birdie, and he finished +4/74 for the day. His poor club selection on the short par-3 13th hole likely led to his downfall. Most players were using a gap or sandwedge, but Phil used his pitching wedge and flew the green, leading to a bogey. In the end, he was unable to capture the elusive US Open title and adds yet another runner-up finish to his career notes. Coming into the tournament, Mickelson already had the most-ever second-place finishes, which after yesterday now stands at six.
The final “big” storyline didn’t get a lot of hype, as Tiger, along with the rest of the field, struggled to make fairways and sink short putts to save par. He finished a disappointing (+13), twelve strokes behind the winner.
Other notes from the US Open
- Justin Rose won in his 8th start, previous best was his inaugural in 2003 (T-5)
- Rose found the fairway 75% of the time and hit 69% of his greens for the tournament
- First major win by English since 1996 (Nick Faldo)
- Mickelson becomes runner-up for 6th time. When asked what he’ll take away from it: “Heartbreak. This was my best chance out of all of them.”
- Woods matches worst US Open total as a pro
-US Open scoring averages to par: holes 1-6: +1.738; holes 7-13:+0.555; holes 14-18: +2.260
Shots of the week:
Shawn Stefani aces the 243-yard par-3 17th, the first ever hole-in-one at Merion in a US Open
Phil Mickelson holes out from the fairway for eagle at the short par-4 10th
USGA Debuts “While We’re Young” Campaign
In the same manner that Golf Channel has dedicated June to combat slow play, the USGA is taking a similar stance and making humorous ads in an attempt to add awareness to the slow play problem plaguing the game today. The campaign slogan is taken from Rodney Dangerfield’s famous character in Caddyshack, Al Czervik, as he urges Judge Smails to just hit his shot by saying “Let’s go, while we’re young.” The USGA was able to nab some top names, both in golf and general celebrity status: Tiger Woods; Arnold Palmer; Paula Creamer; Butch Harmon; Annika Sorenstam; and even Clint Eastwood. The ads ran during this past weekend’s US Open.
See each of the ads here: http://www.usga.org/MicroSite.aspx?id=21474856307
Top Photos of the Week: http://www.golfchannel.com/media/top-photos-of-the-week-june-16-2013/
Top Quotes of the Week: http://www.golfchannel.com/news/grill-room/quotes-of-the-week-june-16-2013/