Golf

U.S. Open countdown: Early look at course seemed to have helped England’s Justin Rose in 2013

113th U.S. Open | June 13-16, 2013

Merion Golf Club East Course, Ardmore, Pa.

Leaderboard

Justin Rose, England 71 - 69 - 71 - 70 281
Jason Day, Australia 70 - 74 - 68 - 71 283
Phil Mickelson, United States 67 - 72 - 70 - 74 283
Jason Dufner, United States 74 - 71 - 73 - 67 285
Ernie Els, South Africa 71 - 72 - 73 - 69 285
Billy Horschel, United States 72 - 67 - 72 - 74 285
Hunter Mahan, United States 72 - 69 - 69 - 75 285

Hailed as truly one of the golfing gems in America, Merion East was given its first shot in 32 years to host the U.S. Open.

Many wondered about the USGA’s decision to return to a course that was both short in yardage (6,966 yards) and infrastructure room, at least by today’s standards.

Was the rain-softened course primed to be eaten alive?

Nobody broke par for the championship.

The one thing that England’s Justin Rose did that few else could do was stay away from the big number at Merion East. He did not make a double bogey all week — a strong feat considering the high scoring.

And after he made back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th holes — coupled with a bogey at No. 13 by overnight co-leader Phil Mickelson — the championship became Rose’s to lose.

And he didn’t, hauling in his first major title.

Rose, who became the first Englishman since Tony Jacklin in 1970 to win the national open, gave Merion East extra attention, getting in the week before the start of the national open to give it a look.

“I was able to appreciate this golf course in the quiet moments, when there was nobody around, when there weren’t thousands of people here for the championship,” Rose said. “And that’s when I did fall in love with the golf course.”

Again, another U.S. Open — another run of heartbreak for Mickelson, the popular people’s champion who came so close to winning his first national open. Instead, he extended his record to six U.S. Open runner-up finishes.

And the day’s crucial moment came on the course’s shortest hole — the 121-yard, par-3 13th.

In the lead by himself, Mickelson should have viewed this serene par 3 as a birdie hole.

But he air-mailed a pitching wedge tee shot over the green, and missed the par-saving putt to drop one shot.

And at No. 15, another poor wedge shot from the fairway led to a bogey.

Needing a late birdie, he missed an 8-foot putt at No. 16 that would have given him one.

Rose put an exclamation point on the championship by rifling a 250-yard approach shot on the finishing hole that never left the flagstick. It carried to the back of the green, and he nearly holed his chip shot for birdie.

A par was still good enough for him to take home a wicker basket-topped flagstick — and the U.S. Open title.

todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

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