Many people love the U.S. Open because it pushes the game's best players to the limit, and sometimes beyond. For those fans, Sunday's action at historic Merion Golf Club was divine theater, at some moments tragic and at others almost comical, complete with shanks, skulls, big numbers and drama. In the end, it came down to who could avoid catastrophes on a rain-softened, venerable course that many felt at the beginning of the week was going to yield low numbers.
That man wound up being Justin Rose, 32, who made five birdies and five bogeys en route to an even-par 70 that left him at 1 over par and at the top of the leaderboard. With the win, Rose becomes the first English winner of the U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin won at Hazeltine National Golf Club in 1970. He is also the first English major winner since Nick Faldo won the 1996 Masters.
Phil Mickelson, who had either the lead or a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds, shot 74 Sunday to finish tied for second with Australia's Jason Day at 3 over par.
With the tournament on the ...
It was a war of attrition at Merion in Sunday's final round at the U.S. Open. We had shanks, shots out of bounds, a hole-in-one and an improbable eagle. Yet in the end it was an Englishman who won the title, the first in a very long time since Tony Jacklin in 1970 at Hazeltine.
Luke Donald was in that third-to-last pairing with Rose, but stumbled early and never recovered.
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THE OTHER ENGLISHMAN: Luke Donald could not close the deal. Shooting a 42 on the front nine with a double bogey and five bogeys, Donald was more a spectator than a competitor while Rose was gutting out his first major win.
It went terribly wrong on the long par three, 3rd hole when Donald pulled his driver left and didn't know anyone was over behind the bent over pine tree, but when he got to his ball he saw one of the tournament's standard bearers lying on the ground after getting hit in the elbow by the wayward shot.
"She was in some pain and felt a little bit faint, and I felt a little bit faint, too, watching it," Donald said of the incident. "Unfortunately ...
Sometimes, it’s just too much to ask for a storybook ending. Maybe it’s just too good to be true, like Greg Norman leading the Open Championship at Birkdale in 2008 on Sunday at the start; or Tom Watson a short-iron par away from capturing the Open Championship at Turnberry in 2009. And yet here we were, on Fathers Day 2013, with Phil Mickelson celebrating his 43rd birthday, and having shot 67 in round one after pulling an all-nighter on a red-eye flight returning from his daughter’s graduation. All Phil had to do was control a couple of wedges on the back nine. Instead, he’s become golf’s tragic hero: six times a runner-up in the tournament you most want to win as an American. And he had no one to blame but himself.
The week started with all sorts of speculation about how easy Merion would be. Nobody among the many channels of talking heads seemed to deviate from the standard line of punditry, that if it remained wet all week the short, quirky course on Ardmore Avenue would yield low scores.
Midway through the front nine Sunday, it was obvious that not only was Merion ...
Phil Mickelson's tournament began with a red-eye flight. Four days later, he looked to bring home the most red-white-and-blue title in golf by winning his first U.S. Open after five runner-up finishes in his career.
Mickelson began the day at Merion Golf Club with a one-shot lead over playing partner Hunter Mahan, Charl Schwartzel and Steve Stricker.
But it was Englishman Justin Rose's even-par 70 that claimed the title in Pennsylvania, the World No. 5 winning by two shots over Mickelson and Jason Day.
The drama was high on Merion's famed stretch of five closing holes, No. 14-18. Click here to read a breakdown of the extended finish – and players' performances along the stretch during the first three rounds.
Tiger Woods teed off more than three hours earlier than the leaders, following Saturday's dismal 76 with a disappointing 74. Read about Tiger's final round here.
Recap the action from the final round at Merion Golf Club – and scroll down for our previous coverage of U.S. Open week.
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Update No. 54: 7:29 ...
Fly the Cross of St. George next to those red wicker baskets. The U.S. Open has an English champion for the first time in 43 years.
Justin Rose shot a closing 70 Sunday at Merion Golf Club for a 1-over 281 total and his first major championship. He finished two shots ahead of Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.
The 32-year-old Rose overcame his share of misadventures on a course that challenged all comers despite being the shortest at a major in nine years. He took the solo lead for good because of others' mistakes at No. 15: Mickelson and Hunter Mahan, playing in the final group, both lost shots on the hole to fall out of a tie for first.
Rose's last shot was a tap-in for par at the 18th, after his caddie removed the pin with the wicker basket on top, the symbol of Merion that replaces the familiar flag. He had chipped it there from the rough just behind the green, nearly becoming the only player to birdie the finishing hole over the final two rounds of the championship.
It's been a long wait for England since Tony Jacklin won the trophy in 1970 ...
As you know by now, Merion Golf Club is longer than it was when David Graham won the last U.S. Open contested here. Much of that length rears its head during the closing five holes – upon which a champion (or playoff contestants) will be determined today.
This last handful of holes comes into play after a stretch of seven short but creative holes, changing the feel of the round. Graeme McDowell, 2010 U.S. Open champion, says of this stretch, "I can't think of a tougher finish at a U.S. Open."
Saturday, Justin Rose spoke to the grind they create.
"If you hit one bad shot on any of those four holes, it generally leads to a bogey," Rose said. "They're very unforgiving from that point of view. So you've just got to play a clean, hit a clean 10 shots or nine shots right in regulation: two good shots on 14, two good shots on 15, two on 16, one on 17, and two on 18.
"If you don't do that, you are really struggling for par."
As with earlier holes on the course, there's also some of the most confounding ground ...
Easy, like Sunday morning.
That's how No. 17 played for Shawn Stefani, even if the rest of the week was a much tougher test at Merion Golf Club.
Stefani pulled his 4-iron tee shot on the long par-3 and it landed left of the green – but bounded onto the putting surface, slowly rolled to the lower shelf toward the pin on the right side, and kept going until it fell into the cup, trapped between the lip and the pin.
"I was actually trying to hit the left side of the green and cut it," Stefani said. "And then I kind of pulled it. I pulled it about five yards. And the wind was kind of down off the left and it really didn't help at all. It didn't move it to the right.
"And honestly I think I've seen a bunch of balls that week kind of not kick to the right and I was really surprised to see the ball kick to the right. And then once it did kick, it kept rolling and I was like, well this could be good. And the fans stood up and then it kept getting closer and ...
A sunny Saturday got the U.S. Open back on track, the final round set to be the first unencumbered by delays or by teeing off both nines.
But will that plan hold up?
Play began Sunday under fine conditions when Robert Karlsson teed off at 8:44 a.m. But the clouds that have been expected to roll in now carry a higher chance of rain than thought last night.
Forecasts range from a 40 percent chance of rain by weather.com to 60 percent by wunderground.com – with the most likely time around 4 p.m. by most accounts.
Keep in mind, leader Phil Mickelson isn't set to tee off until 3:20 p.m. with playing partner Hunter Mahan in the day's final group.
With sunset at 8:32 p.m., that leaves little room for error to avoid a Monday finish on a Merion East Course where play has not always been quick amid narrow fairways, thick rough and undulating greens – not to mention five long finishing holes that have played well above par.
Blame a 2-iron for Luke Donald’s car crash on 17 and train wreck on 18.
Holding a one-shot lead in the U.S. Open, Donald bogeyed the par-3 17th, playing 253 yards, then double bogeyed the par-4 18th, which measures a stout 521 yards.
On each hole, Donald flared a 2-iron shot to the right, leaving his ball in a bunker at 17 and in heavy, thick, unassailable rough at 18. He needed three more shots on 17, four more on 18.
Donald explained 17: “I just went at it too hard from the top, and that’s my kind of miss at the moment, to the right.”
What followed was even worse: “The rough has been tough this week, but I’ve never seen a lie like that (on 18). It was unfortunate. I didn’t deserve much better. I shouldn’t have been over there. But if I had a decent lie, I probably would have had a (short) putt for four.”
On 17, Donald needed to carry a ridge at 240 yards. On 18, his carry distance was 229 yards to the middle of the green. Both these yardage figures came from Donald himself.
“With both ...
It's Phil Mickelson in the lead and Hunter Mahan nipping at his heels. Most of the field Saturday found Merion just as difficult as the first two days. But some, notably Mahan, Charl Schwartzel, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Paul Lawrie and Lee Westwood, got the best of Merion.
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SERGIO McAVOY? Sergio Garcia showed off his best Tin Cup moment on the 15th hole in the third round of the U.S. Open.
It was just a month ago that Garcia, with a chance to win his second Players Championship, rinsed a sleeve on the last two holes at TPC Sawgrass.-That included two in the water at the 17th hole, recording a quadruple bogey 7.
This time it wasn't a pond, but Golf House Road that borders the 411-yard, par-4 hole – which is out-of-bounds all down the left side.
Garcia launched his driver down the left side, the first of three drives that would find the road before he finally found the golf course on his seventh shot.
The 10 that Garcia recorded didn't seem to bother him when he finished his round.
"Well what does that say about my game that I can make a 10 ...
It was a bountiful day for quotes at the U.S. Open. Even the golfers who didn’t play well in the third round seemed to be talkative.
So here is the latest installment of major championship awards:
• The let’s go award: To the front-running Phil Mickelson, who said, “Let’s go. I can’t wait to get back out playing. I feel really good about my ballstriking. I feel good on the greens, and I think that it’s going to take an under-par round tomorrow.”
• In defense of Luke Donald: “Those last two holes are the hardest holes on the course probably,” said Hunter Mahan, who went bogey-bogey, one better than Donald’s bogey-double bogey finish.
• Say it ain’t so, Sergio: After Sergio Garcia hit three balls out of bounds off the 15th tee, Ian Poulter was asked if this was the most intimidating golf hole in the world. “We play a lot tougher tee shots than that around the world,” Poulter responded. Ouch!
• The military golf award: Rory McIlroy, who shot 75, said plainly, “I guess I was missing my woods right and my irons left.”
• The Bob Hope and Bing Crosby impersonation award: Tiger ...
U.S. Open Golf, a fundamentally different game than pros play week-in and week-out on the PGA Tour, has rules, and Phil Mickelson knows them as well as anyone.
Rule 1: You have to hit the fairways.
Rule 2: You must hit the greens,
Rule 3: If you don't follow Rule 2, you've got to miss in a spot where you have a chance to recover.
Rule 4: You have to summon the nerve to hit a 6-foot par putt with enough conviction to make it hold its line, even though missing would result in an 8-foot comebacker for bogey.
For two days, Mickelson played by the rules and was rewarded with a share of the lead at the U.S. Open at Merion. But as the frat boys cheered "Phil! Phil! Phil" and the sun-soaked, beer-loving crowds cheered him Saturday afternoon, Mickelson seemingly developed amnesia.
Mickelson blocked his tee shot on the 556-yard par-5 second into the left rough and scrambled to save par. He dropped his tee shot to the 245-yard par-3 third hole short and into the rough, then hit his pitch shot too far and missed a downhill 6-foot par putt. He overshot the ...
Unlike the first two days, there were no apparent problems with his left arm. No, the only grimacing Tiger Woods did in the U.S. Open third round was because of his substandard golf shots and his messy scorecard, not because of physical pain.
If Saturday is indeed moving day, then the world’s No. 1 golfer got rid of the furniture and moved out. Remarkably, after making his lone birdie on the opening hole, Woods shot a 6-over-par 76 at Merion. He started the day four shots off the lead and, after seven bogeys, ended it 10 behind rival Phil Mickelson.
Woods, of course, arrived in suburban Philadelphia hungry to win his first major championship in five years. He arrived, too, with high hopes, having won four of his seven PGA Tour stroke-play starts of the year. And he remained optimistic after a 73-70 start, even though he had three-putted twice and missed some other putts inside 10 feet on opening day.
But by Saturday night he was out of it and disappointed.
“It is certainly frustrating because I certainly was feeling like I was playing well this week, and I just didn’t make the putts I need ...
Tiger Woods, on chances to be aggressive:
There's some difficult pins out there. A couple of them are on ridges or are very close, you got to really position your shots well. If you leave yourself in the correct spots, you can be pretty aggressive with some putts and they're not that fast uphill into the grain. So if you put yourself in a correct spot, you can really take a pretty good run at it and be aggressive. But if you put the ball in the wrong spots, yeah, it's tough to make putts.
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Woods, on whether this Open setup is the most penal he's played:
Most definitely. Because of the pins, I think. The long holes are playing really long and short holes obviously are short, but the thing is that the pins out there, what they're giving us out there are really tough.
Look at what they did at 7 and 8 today. Couple short holes, but 7's one step and a half over the top of the ridge. And 8's on the down slope a little bit. And it's a pretty steep slope. So they got some really ...
Tiger Woods birdied his opening hole Saturday at the U.S. Open, but seven bogeys after that virtually ended his championship hopes.
Woods shot 6-over 76 to move to 9 over heading into Sunday's final round at Merion.
Phil Mickelson's title hopes, though, are alive and well, as Lefty leads at 1 under after carding an even-par 70. He'll play in the final group Sunday alongside Hunter Mahan, who is among three players at even par. Steve Stricker and Charl Schwartzel are the other two players who are one shot back.
A trio of players chasing their first major title are 1 over: Justin Rose, Luke Donald and Billy Horschel.
It should be an exciting final round at Merion, one that comes after a thrilling third round.
See how it all unfolded Saturday at Merion!
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Update No. 28: 8:07 p.m. EDT
The par-4 18th continues to wreak havoc. Luke Donald double-bogeys the hole to finish with a 1-over 71. He'll enter Sunday at 1 over. Also, Phil Mickelson bogeyed the hole after leaving a 15-footer for par just short. Mickelson is the only player under par (1 under) through 54 holes after a third-round ...