Justin Rose won the 2013 U.S. Open with a gutsy display of nerves and a stunning collection of brilliant shots. He shot an even-par round of 70 in the final round at Merion's East Course to finish the tournament with a score of one-over par.
Bleacher Report congratulated Rose on his huge victory:
ESPN Stats & Info noted that Rose becomes the first Englishman to win a major since Nick Faldo (1996) and first to win a U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin (1970):
Phil Mickelson finished tied with Jason Day for second place at three-over par. For Lefty, it is the sixth time in his career he has finished runner-up at this prestigious major.
Here's a quick look at the final leaderboard.
Though torrential rains soaked the course for a week leading up to the U.S. Open, the course was in phenomenal shape on Sunday. The greens played hard and fast, running in the "13- to 13½-foot range on the USGA Stimpmeter," as noted by Brian Keogh of IrishGolfDesk.com:
Narrow fairways framed by inhospitable rough that proved most difficult to escape claimed many victims the past four days. Deep bunkers akin to the pit of doom wouldn't be outdone.
Merion proved to be a worthy opponent for the world's best golfers this past weekend, as illustrated by Golfweek Forecaddie:
Justin Rose Finally Wins a Major
Rose has long been a member of that ill-fated group of top golfers to never win a major championship.
He'd come close a number of times, posting seven top-10 finishes in his successful career. Now, Rose is a member of a new, more exclusive club, as CBS Sports' Kyle Porter pointed out:
Rose's final round wasn't always pretty. He posted five bogeys to go along with his five birdies—including two bogeys on the final five holes, as noted by Dan Jenkins of Golf Digest:
But winning a U.S. Open is rarely "pretty." It takes more grit and courage than anything else, as pressure and the brutal conditions set up by the USGA compress stress to its breaking point.
Most of the field broke on Sunday.
Rose, however, showed incredible poise under pressure. He finished the round by hitting a solid shot into the 18th green and then nearly holing out his birdie putt from the fringe.
In the end, only Rose remained, and his name will now go down in history for his extraordinary efforts under pressure.
Top Highlights From Final Round At Merion
Despite the overwhelming difficulty of the course on Sunday, there were some incredible shots made, as you're about to see.
Shawn Stefani, who was 20-over par heading into No. 17 on Sunday, made the shot of the tournament with a hole-in-one. Interestingly enough, he didn't hit a particularly good shot, as it landed in the rough left of the green.
One fortuitous hop, however, changed a poor shot into one that will go down in history. After his round, the USGA wanted his ball and Merion kept his scorecard for its archives, according to Dan Gelston of the AP:
Stefani's reaction to the result of his shot was priceless. Despite his poor finish, you can be sure he left Merion with a smile on his face.
After a couple of early double-bogeys sent Phil Mickelson down the leaderboard, he came charging back with an extraordinary eagle on No. 10—the drivable par four.
From the right-hand rough, Mickelson hit a signature "Lefty" shot, bouncing his ball in front of the pin, whereupon it released right into the cup.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was Mickelson's second eagle on a par-four in the U.S. Open—his first coming in 2000 at Pebble Beach:
Needless to say, Mickelson was excited to make the shot, and his eagle moved him into the lead in emphatic fashion.
Adam Scott, winner of this year's Masters, gave fans something to cheer about as well, hitting a brilliant shot into the par-three No. 13. He nearly matched Stefani's feat, but his ball spun back after coming within inches of dropping into the cup.
Top Golfers Overwhelmed by Merion on Sunday
Some of the world's best golfers played more like you and me out on the course on Sunday.
Tiger Woods struggled through another disappointing major, except instead of finishing in fourth place like he did at the Masters earlier this year, he shot himself completely out of this tournament. Woods ended up posting a final score of 293—13-over par.
He started out the day with a birdie, but his round quickly spiraled out of control after he made triple-bogey on No. 2, as noted by Jason Sobel of Golf Channel:
Five years and counting—that's how long it's been since Woods has won a major championship. He'll have to go back to the drawing board after missing fairways and greens on a regular basis at Merion.
Woods wasn't the only top golfer to fall apart on Sunday, either.
Rory McIlroy completely melted down on Sunday, posting a 76 for the day (six-over par) and a final score of 14-over par for the tournament. At one point, he was so frustrated after hitting his shot into the water at No. 11 that he angrily bent his club as a way to vent.
Because the club was bent by his own hand in anger, McIlroy wasn't able to replace it. In the end, it didn't matter much as the damage was already done.
Steve Stricker entered Sunday's action just one stroke behind the leaders at even par. It didn't take him long to shoot himself out of the tournament, however, as he logged a triple-bogey on No. 2, as noted by the PGA Tour:
He also hit one of the worst shots you'll ever see from a professional golfer, as illustrated by CBS Sports' Kyle Porter:
Stricker went on to post a final score of six-over par and finished tied for eighth place with Luke Donald. It was as miserable a final round as you can imagine from a player who had a legitimate chance to win at the start of the round.
Donald, just like Stricker, also quickly shot himself out of the lead with a comedy of errors after starting the day one shot behind the leaders at even par.
His first big mistake came when he downed a spectator with an errant drive, as shown by Will Brinson of CBS Sports:
Or, as ESPN's Rick Reilly put it, he hit it "into Mordor":
That wasn't the only big mistake Donald made early, either.
Donald hit a poor shot into the water in front of the green on No. 4, causing ByTheMinGolf to offer up a comparison to Jean Van de Velde:
Donald was able to make the best of his situation, however, and managed to get the ball onto the green from right in front of the water.
Unfortunately, he still scored a bogey on the hole and finished the day at five-over par, tied for eighth place.
Charl Schwartzel, who was tied with Donald and Stricker at even par to start the day, suffered just as badly as they did, shooting 42 in the front nine. As Luke Elvy put it, these three men went "from great chances to footnotes" in less than nine holes:
Merion: Not So Easy, After All
Before the tournament began, there was talk of potentially record-low scores being registered at the short course. The rain had softened up the greens, and many people, including Ernie Els (via Philly.com Sports), believed the course would yield plenty of birdies:
Merion had a different plan.
The course drained well, greens firmed up and the rough was more brutal than ever, thanks to all the rain.
As ESPN noted, Woods, McIlroy and Scott—the top three players in the world—finished with a combined score of 42-over par:
Els, the man who was expecting an easy go of things, did well for himself finishing in a tie for fourth place, but he still shot five-over par for the tournament.
Perhaps Paul Hayward of The Daily Telegraph said it best as he lauded the USGA for its spectacular tournament:
Merion compelled many of the world's best golfers to its knees.
The quaint relic of the past, as some have suggested, this course proved to be worthy of the honor of hosting the U.S. Open.
Here's hoping we get to see the East Course host another U.S. Open in our lifetimes. It is a gem of the highest caliber that deserves to be revisited in appreciation from time to time.
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