Rose conquers Merion
Ardmore, PA (Sports Network) - With pars on the final two holes Sunday, Justin Rose did just enough to win the U.S. Open Championship.
Rose mixed five birdies and five bogeys in an even-par round of 70. He finished his first major championship title at 1-over 281.
Phil Mickelson bogeyed the last to drop into a share of second at 3-over 283. He closed with a 4-over 74 and ended alongside Jason Day (71). The runner-up finish for Mickelson was his sixth at this championship, and that is an event record.
For the second time in four years, Rose came out on top in the Philadelphia suburbs. In 2010, he fended off Ryan Moore to win the AT&T National at nearby Aronimink Golf Club.
A few miles from where that event was contested, Rose fought off an even stronger leaderboard to claim the victory on the East Course at Merion Golf Club.
"It's unbelievable. The Philly crowd remembered that. I felt like I had a lot of goodwill the whole week," Rose admitted. "There was a lot of Go Justins! Congratulations! This is your town! Repeat! I tried to feed off that energy as best I can."
The Englishman grabbed control of the tournament with birdies at 12 and 13, but he gave those strokes back at 14 and 16 to lose his lead. Much like Saturday's third round, those closest to the lead fell backwards.
Day was the first to post plus-3, but he did so after bogeys at 14 and 18.
Mickelson, who turned 43 on Sunday, eagled the 10th to move back to even-par for the championship, but he bogeyed 13 and 15 to slide one back. He needed a birdie over the last three holes, but failed to do so.
The six-time runner-up parred 16, then 2-putted for par at 17. Mickelson's drive at the last found the left rough and he tried to chase his approach from there, but his shot hit soft and stopped short of the green.
Mickelson's birdie chip rolled by the right edge, then he 2-putted for bogey to end two back.
Jason Dufner and Hideki Matsuyama matched the low round of the week on Sunday as they closed with 67s. Dufner and British Open champion Ernie Els (69) shared fourth at 5-over 285. They were joined there by Billy Horschel (74) and Hunter Mahan (75).
Luke Donald shot 75 on Sunday, while Steve Stricker struggled to a 76. They shared eighth at plus-6.
Matsuyama tied for 10th at 7-over 287. He was joined there by Rickie Fowler (74), Nicolas Colsaerts (72) and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (72).
Three-time champion Tiger Woods opened with a birdie, but hit his tee ball out of bounds on the par-5 second and that led to a triple bogey. From there, he had four bogeys and two birdies en route to a 74. Woods ended in a tie for 32nd at 13-over 293.
Rose came up short at the third and that led to a bogey, which dropped him to plus-2, but he fought back with a 2-putt birdie at the par-5 fourth.
The 32-year-old Rose found sand off the tee at five and was forced to lay up. That led to a bogey. He responded with a birdie effort from about 25 feet out at the sixth.
Rose made it two in a row with an 18-footer for birdie at the seventh. He 2- putted for par from the fringe at eight to keep his 1-stroke lead.
Day had two birdies and a bogey through nine holes to get within one at plus-1. The Australian rolled in a 13-footer for birdie at 10 and that got him to even-par, where he was tied for the lead with Rose.
Day dumped one in the water at 11, then needed a chip-in bogey to only fall one back. He went on to drop shots at 14 and 18 to finish at plus-3.
That left it up to Mickelson and Rose. Mickelson made a mess of the third and fifth, making double bogeys at both holes. In between, he 2-putted for birdie at the par-5 fourth,
After four pars in a row, and seemingly fading from contention, Mickelson holed a 75-yard wedge shot for eagle at the 10th. That gave him the lead at even-par as Rose 3-putted the 11th to slip to plus-1.
Rose answered in fine fashion as he stuffed his approach shot within a foot of the hole at the 12th. After the kick-in birdie gave him a piece of the lead, Rose moved into red figures one hole later.
He poured in a 22-footer for birdie at 13 to move to minus-1 as he was the last player in red figures for the championship.
Rose failed to get up and down for par from a bunker at 14 to slip to even- par. He parred 15 to head to the last three holes with a 1-stroke lead.
Mickelson had three pars and a bogey on the shortest hole on the course, No. 13, after his eagle at 10.
Throwing one more obstacle into the closing stretch, a steady rain turned into a brief downpour as the wind also picked up.
Rose found sand with his approach at 14 and he blasted to 30 feet. He walked off with a 2-putt bogey. As the rain subsided and the sun came back out, Rose 3-putted for bogey at 16 to dip to 1-over.
He was still one clear after Mickelson dropped a shot at 15. Rose got up and down for par from just off the edge of the 17th green.
From the 18th fairway, Rose's second shot ran right by the hole, but settled into the back fringe. He putted with a hybrid through the rough to within inches of the hole
Rose tapped in for par, then had to wait and see if Mickelson could made birdie and force a playoff.
Mickelson had just parred 16, then 2-putted for par at 17. His drive at 18 found the thick grass left of the fairway. Mickelson's approach stopped short of the green and he failed to hole the birdie chip.
"For me it's very heart breaking. This could have been the really big turnaround for me on how I look at the U.S. Open and the tournament that I'd like to win, after having so many good opportunities," Mickelson stated. "Also playing very well here and really loving the golf course, this week was my best opportunity, I felt, heading in, certainly the final round, the way I was playing and the position I was in."
Rose couldn't watch in the clubhouse, but he heard the moan of the crowd from the 18th grandstand before the television showed Mickelson's shot. When he realized Mickelson had failed to make birdie, Rose turned to celebrate with his caddie and his wife.
"It feels fantastic. I committed myself to the process this week. I committed myself to putting a strategy in place that I hoped would work in 5-to-10 years in delivering major championships," Rose stated. "And I tried to strike on that feeling the first week out, first time I tried and tested it to come out with the silver. And it feels absolutely amazing. Going forward gives me a lot of confidence. I don't know if it takes pressure off, but it's a moment where you can look back and think childhood dreams have come true."
NOTES: Rose earned $1.44 million for the victory, which was his fifth on the PGA Tour and sixth on the European Tour ... Last year's champion Webb Simpson closed with a 72 to end tied for 32nd at 13-over 293 ... Next year's U.S. Open heads to Pinehurst No. 2, where Michael Campbell won the 2005 U.S. Open, the last time the championship was held there ... The PGA Tour heads to Connecticut for the Travelers Championship, where Marc Leishman won last year, and the European Tour shifts to Germany for the BMW International Open, which Danny Willett won in 2012.
06/16 21:30:44 ET