Justin Rose won the 113th U.S. Open by shooting an impressive even-par 70 in Sunday's final round to beat out Phil Mickelson and Jason Day by two strokes at Ardmore, Pa.'s Merion Golf Club.
Pars are golden in the season's always demanding second major championship, but Rose was able to make five birdies to offset his five bogeys in the final round before pars at the grueling final two holes got him his first major title.
It was a record sixth runner-up finish for Mickelson, whose heartbreak at this prestigious tournament continues. Despite holing out for eagle at the par-four 10th, he couldn't quite get it done or overcome two double bogeys in his first five holes.
ESPN's Justin Ray highlighted just how impressive Rose's Round 4 score was in relation to the others near the top of the leaderboard, as well as what wound up being Mickelson's undoing:
No one handled the immense pressure as well as the 32-year-old Englishman, who capped things off by nearly chipping in for a birdie, which would have been the first such score on No. 18 in the final 36 holes:
Day was around the lead all day but bogeyed three of his final eight holes to settle for a 71 and a second runner-up finish at the U.S. Open in three years.
Shane Bacon of Yahoo! contextualized that achievement in light of Mickelson's close calls:
However, a quartet of contenders faltered in their bids to capture their first respective majors. Billy Horschel was the least experienced of all, yet his 74 was better than the other notable players who had a chance to take home the trophy.
Steve Stricker could have been the oldest U.S. Open champion ever, but an out-of-bounds tee shot and another shank at the par-five second hole took the wind out of his sails very early. He wound up shooting 76.
Robert Lusetich of Fox Sports was sarcastic in his lament over picking the 46-year-old Stricker to win from the beginning:
Playing in the final group alongside Mickelson, Hunter Mahan didn't birdie all day and lost four strokes in the final four holes for a six-over 76. That score was matched by former world No. 1 Luke Donald, who dropped five strokes from No. 3 through No. 6 and never recovered.
Jason Dufner sneaked into the top four by matching the best round of the tournament with a 67 well before the leaders made their run down the stretch. The 2011 PGA Championship runner-up could have been far more of a factor, though, if not for a triple bogey at No. 15.
Also in joint fourth were Horschel, Mahan and two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els, who posted an impressive 69 in the early going.
Circling back to Rose, inspiration came to him from his friend, reigning Masters champion Adam Scott, who also got the major monkey off his back at Augusta National in April, via PGA Tour on Twitter:
Rose's run to victory was even more impressive considering how tough of a start he had Thursday, which fellow star player Brandt Snedeker pointed out:
Snedeker went to school at Vanderbilt, so he's clearly a sharp guy. But the brutality of Merion even detracted from his ability to get the math right on the first tweet:
Lee Westwood, who finished a stroke ahead of Snedeker in a tie for 15th at plus-nine, couldn't fathom how hard the setup would have been if it were as the USGA initially intended:
Now no one can knock Rose for not winning the big one, which is a significant relief and also a testament to how tough he's been to keep grinding despite the prior disappointments.
The others who fell short of him without any major hardware can take solace in the fact that someone who hadn't gotten it done before emerged as the champion.