Justin Rose played remarkable down the menacing closing stretch of the Merion Golf Club to win the 113th U.S. Open. It was the 32-year-old's first major victory, and it should be no surprise to anyone that it earned him inclusion onto this list.
He wasn't the only one to turn in an impressive performance, though. With the world's top two golfers in Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy finishing well off the pace, the door was open for some of the tour's lesser-known golfers to shine.
Here are the three golfers who impressed me the most.
After finishing fourth at the 1998 British Open as a 17-year-old amateur, it seemed like Rose was destined to be a factor at majors for years to come.
It hasn't exactly played out like that. It's been a process for Rose as he learned to succeed in big-time golf. On Sunday, he proved that process was complete.
With the 17th and 18th hole providing what is arguably the most difficult close ever to a major, Rose calmly and coolly parred both. Rose was so perfect on the 18th, he left a birdie on the lip. There was not a single birdie on that hole over the last two rounds.
With Rose's tremendous ability off the tee, his improved putting and his new-found poise, there is no reason this has to be his final major.
After holding a share of the lead at the end of the second round, things did not play out in the final two rounds as Horschel had hoped.
Horschel fired a 72 on Saturday and a 74 on Sunday to finish at five-over and tied for fourth.
Still, it was a supremely impressive performance for a 26-year-old who showed no fear in tremendous pressure. The lack of fear was even apparent in his wardrobe. Even TNT's and former NBA mainstay Steve Kerr had to comment:
While Kerr confused octopi for spiders, his respect is duly noted.
This was only Horschel's second major, and yet here he was as a factor up until the very end and wound up with a top-five finish.
Horschel's putting let him down on these tricky greens, but there was no setback that could totally derail him.
Horschel missed a golden opportunity for a career-defining win, but with his talent and mentality, I expect him to earn a few more cracks at major titles.
After an insanely hot finish to the 2012 season, Jason Dufner has been a disappointment this year. It's not that he's been terrible; he just hasn't had anywhere near the consistently excellent ball striking he displayed last year.
Prior to the U.S. Open, he didn't have a finish in the top 10 all year. He fired a 67 on Sunday to storm up the leaderboard and finish with Horschel at five-over.
He fired that 67 while suffering a triple bogey on No. 15. It was a stellar round on a difficult layout.
Dufner was solid all week, and his remarkable performance on Sunday showcased that. This is a great sign for the rest of his year.
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