• US Open, Round Four

Rose emulates Hogan & Jacklin with historic triumph

Alex Dimond at Merion June 16, 2013
Justin Rose became just the ninth Englishman to claim the US Open title © Getty Images

Justin Rose became the first Englishman in 43 years to win the US Open on Sunday, as he beat Phil Mickelson in front of a partisan crowd to claim far-and-away the biggest victory of his career.

Rose followed in the footsteps of the likes of Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones Jr and Lee Trevino as he claimed a major victory at Merion Golf Club, sealed with a par-four at the 18th - just as Hogan famously managed back in 1950.

2013 US Open: Final Leaderboard

Justin Rose won at Merion © AP
  • +1        Justin Rose
  • +3        Phil Mickelson, Jason Day
  • +5        Jason Dufner, Hunter Mahan
                Ernie Els, Billy Horschel

"It feels fantastic," Rose said afterwards. "I committed myself to putting a strategy in place that I hoped would work in five to ten years in delivering major championships. 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, it feels absolutely amazing."

Unlike Hogan, however, Rose had no need for a subsequent play-off. Finishing at one-over, after a closing round of 70, the 32-year-old concluded a solitary shot ahead of Mickelson, with the home favourite still to complete the treacherous 17th and 18th.

But there was to be no fairytale finish for Mickelson, who was hoping to celebrate his 43rd birthday with a win in the tournament he cherishes above all others. Instead, after his third shot at 18 ran past the hole without dropping, he was forced to endure a sixth US Open runner-up finish of his career.

"This one's probably the toughest for me, because at 43 and coming so close five times, it would have changed the way I look at this tournament and the way I would have looked at my record," Mickelson said. "Instead, I just keep feeling heartbreak."

But his pain was Rose's delight. Rose became the first Englishman since Sir Nick Faldo in 1996 to win a major - celebrating his final tap-in by raising his hand to the sky and blowing a kiss for his late father, Ken, who introduced him to the game.

Rose's exploits all week had been overshadowed by those of his compatriot and playing partner on Sunday, Luke Donald. But, while Donald crumbled early on and eventually finished in a tie for eighth at six-over, Rose found a groove midway through his round and rode it all the way to glory.

After two steady pars to start, a bogey at the third created fears that this was not to be the day for the English. But he responded with a straightforward birdie at the par-five fourth and - after dropping a shot at the fifth, a treacherous hole not one of the top-15 on the leaderboard managed to navigate in three - rolled in back-to-back birdie putts at the sixth and seventh to find himself in the lead at the turn.

A bogey at the 11th confirmed that nerves were beginning to come into play - but those seemed to be assuaged by a bounce-back birdie at the 12th. Then, perhaps, the turning point - a 20-footer at the short 13th that restored him to the lead.

Heading into Merion's devilish closing stretch, it was a timely boost. A bogey at the 14th came as the result of two errant swings, but he stepped up to the 15th tee - with out of bounds just a yard left of the fairway - and found the middle of the short stuff. After another solid approach a 25-footer for birdie would not drop, but the par was equally cherished.

Still, the job was not done - especially after a three-putt from a devilish spot on the 16th green dropped him back over-par for the tournament. But he then produced three of the best swings of his life - finding the back of the green at both the 17th and 18th, making up-and -downs on each occasion.

At the 18th, after hitting from a spot near to Hogan's famous plaque, he used a three-wood from the fringe to bump his shot up to the cup, leaving him all of an inch to secure golfing immortality.

"My goal was to carry myself in a way I could proud of, especially on such an emotional day," Rose said afterwards. "[At the 18th] I thought, this was my moment. I just tried to keep calm.

"This is a childhood dream come true right now."

Phil Mickelson thought his eagle at the tenth would propel him to victory © AP

Rose's pleasure was Mickelson's pain. When the left-hander eagled the 10th - pitching his 64-degree wedge in from 74 yards - it looked destined to finally be his day, even after stumbling out in 39 shots. But missing the green at the 13th cost him a shot and, when he also bogeyed the 15th, he was left needing a miracle to force a play-off.

One would not be forthcoming, Mickelson eventually making bogey while chasing a birdie at the last - allowing Jason Day to share second at yet another major championship.

Day shot 71, although he will perhaps be relieved that a four-footer he slid by at the last did not cost him a ticket into a play-off. The Australian was about the only other contender to find some of the answers to the test posed by Merion and the USGA on Sunday, with Hunter Mahan and Billy Horschel (decked out in 'interesting' octupus-print trousers) finishing nearby at five-over.

Donald and Steve Stricker (who hit his tee-shot out of bounds at the second, and followed it with a shank on the way to a triple-bogey) were one shot worse off even than that.

Even that paled in comparison to Charl Schwartzel, however, who birdied the first to take a share of the lead before eventually shooting 78 to crumble to eight-over, with Lee Westwood only one shot in arrears having barely made the cut.

The clubhouse target was set by Jason Dufner, who briefly threatened to challenge Merion's course record of 64 before picking up a triple-bogey at the 15th. Nevertheless, he recovered with a birdie at the next - his sixth of the day - to shoot 67 and post five-over.

Open champion Ernie Els then threatened to lower that bar, before falling foul of the 18th. A bogey there left him to settle for a 69, and a share of five-over.

Elsewhere, Tiger Woods ended a disappointing tournament with a 74 to conclude at 13-over. It was a total matched by the defending champion Webb Simpson and one superior to Rory McIlroy, who stumbled to the line in 76 shots, showing some frustration on the way.

"There's always a lesson to be learned in every tournament, whether you win or lose," he said. "I'll look back at the things I did right and the things I did wrong."

Asked for his opinion of Merion, he added: "I'm sure [the US Open] will come back. Golf course-wise, it could definitely host another major championship."

Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia both finished 15-over, with the Spaniard again making a mess of the 14th as he recorded a seven. The Spaniard dropped 16 shots on the 14th and 15th alone over the course of the week, running up a six, a seven, an eight and a 10.

Garcia also continued to receive some abuse from the crowds. Asked whether he felt the spectators had been unfair over the course of the weekend, he said: "I don't know. You ask them that."

Asked if it had been tough, he replied: "What do you think? What do you think?"

When the reporter replied that he thought it had been very tough, Garcia responded: "Okay."

No-one needed to ask Rose how his week had been, however. The answer to that was obvious.

Justin Rose won the US Open at Merion © AP
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Alex Dimond Close
Alex Dimond is an assistant editor of ESPN.co.uk