ARDMORE, Pa. — As Justin Rose walked up the 18th fairway at Merion Golf Club on Sunday in the final round of the U.S. Open, he couldn’t forget about the rich history that surrounds the famed course on the outskirts of Philadelphia.
All week golfers talked about the image of Ben Hogan striking his 1-iron on the final hole to force a playoff in the 1950 Open. Rose found himself in a similar spot Sunday with a one-shot lead over Phil Mickelson.
“When I hit my tee shot and walked over the hill, and I saw my ball in the upslope in the middle of the (fairway), waiting to be hit,” Rose said. “And that image is kind of hard not to escape, that this was my turn to kind of have that iconic moment, I guess, for me. And I hit a good 4-iron, I felt I did it justice.”
Rose made par on the closing hole for an even-par round of 70, which was good for a two-shot victory over Mickelson and Jason Day.
It is the first major championship for the 32-year-old Englishman.
Mickelson was the sentimental favorite Sunday but was runner-up in his national championship for the sixth time.
Celebrating his 43rd birthday, which fell on Father’s Day, Mickelson was the fan favorite. But after holing a wedge shot for an eagle at the 10th, he couldn’t hold the lead and made bogeys on three of his final six holes.
Rose, though, carded five birdies against five bogeys on the demanding layout.
Mickelson’s tee shot on No. 18 found the rough, and his second shot came up short. When his pitch shot didn’t go in, the celebration for Rose was on. He clapped his hands and hugged his wife, Kate. Mickelson will have to wait another year.
“This one’s probably the toughest for me, because at 43 and coming so close five times (previous), it would have changed way I look at this tournament altogether and the way I would have looked at my record,” he said.