Although its been forty-three years since the United States National Champion was Englishman and seventeen years since a Brit has won a major golf championship, Justin Rose’s two-stroke win at Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania is still just as sweet. US fans of Phil Mickelson might call it an aberration but even if it wasn’t for Rose, Jason Day would have been there to raise the flag for Australia. In either case it was consistent play or rather the consistency of non-errors that made the difference Sunday, as challenger after challenger fell prey to the ‘tough but not difficult’ course that was supposed to be scored on early and often, needless to say when the winner shoots a one-over par to win a major tournament that wasn’t the case. In fact some PGA officials are still in the clubhouse wondering when that’s going to happen.
In fact, Merion played so tough that of the top nine finishers (4 players tied for the 10th spot) only two shot sub-par rounds and Rose was even for the day and won by two strokes. Even coming in at a par-70 was no easy feat as Rose’s card was a bit of a roller coaster as during a five hole stretch on the front nine he oscillated from bogey to birdie and again over a four hole stretch on the back nine to end up flat over the nine holes total before another bogey on 16 put the match back in play. However Rose persisted to par the remaining two holes as opposed to Day who bogeyed 18 in an attempt to score red and give himself a chance at a win, and Mickelson show bogeyed three of the final six holes en route to a disastrous +4 to almost drop off the first page all together.
The win represents Rose’s first win of the year (9 events) an immediately boost his ranking to 5th in the world and earnings to close to 4 million Euro for the year. “What a day, I just kept telling myself that bogeys is what everyone was doing," he said. "You just have to finish them. I had two good swings up 18 even though it trickled off the edge, but I was happy to get up and down. "I don't know what to say, I'm thrilled," added Rose, who revealed he took huge encouragement from a text message from Adam Scott, who made his major breakthrough at the Masters. What he can say is that he is the US Open Champion, and the holder of the first major for an Englishman since the Beatles held the top of the charts in the US.
Mother Nature has already picked sides for the 113th U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club outside of Philadelphia and it’s not favoring the 6,996 yard Ardmore, Pa. course. She made her opening statement on Saturday dumping 31/2 inches of rain with more coming on Monday and is still expected to make more saturation during the first round on Thursday dropping rain drop, after rain drop. The pre-tourney weekend was so bad; the 11th hole was ruled off limits for practice rounds that were twice suspended. More than an inch of water came down to start the week and with more in the forecast, a soft golf course with low scores is in the making. Players who are on their games will be rewarded with a bucket full of birdie attempts, in an Open where par-4’s, rule the week. The main defense Merion still possesses however is a flush rough so thick off the fairways, Bigfoot would be proud! Reigning Open Champion Ernie Els stated, “You start missing some shots, the rough is as bad as I’ve ever seen it. If you hit it in the rough here, you’re just advancing it 120 yards, 140 yards, most of the time. That’s still very penal.” One group that should get to stand back and take mental notes on how to deal with Thursday’s anticipated precipitation, is the group all eyes will be on in the opening round. Tiger Woods, of course the World’s top ranked player, Masters Champion Adam Scott, ranked No. 3 in the world and Rory McIlroy the world’s No. 2 player are all paired together for Thursday and Friday’s action teeing off at 1:14 Eastern time, on the East Course. This will give them a slight advantage to gauge the soggy conditions and adjust accordingly in their warm-ups. For Scott, with his first major title now under his belt, the first two rounds won’t be his first super-pairing in a major. In 2008, Scott played with Woods and Phil Mickelson at Torrey Pines in the opening rounds of the U.S. Open. He was also ranked third in the world at the time. He reminisced about the pressure he faced on that Thursday and Friday, which happened to be the last major title Woods has won. “I think anyone would have felt like the third wheel that week. Obviously Tiger and Phil, it was so much to talk about with it being Phil’s hometown and Tiger dominating at Torrey for years and it was a great pairing. It was an experience that I’ll never forget. I’ve never seen that many people on a Thursday morning first tee. It was a great atmosphere”, he told ESPN.com. While Tiger is still on the hunt for that first win since his dramatic Torrey Pines victory virtually on one-leg due to a torn ACL, dealing with the Sergio Garcia controversy is something he plans on avoiding altogether. Garcia approached Woods on the driving range Monday and the two shook hands but a ‘hi’ from the Spaniard was all that was exchanged between the two players. Some believed Garcia attempted to set up another time to speak with Woods but that wasn’t the case. “No, we didn’t discuss anything. He just came up and ‘Hi’ and that was it”, Woods told a news conference crowd on Tuesday. Asked if Garcia apologized, Woods said: “It’s already done. We’ve already gone through it all. It’s time for the U.S. Open and we tee it up in two days. Garcia was jokingly asked on May 21 if he would have dinner with Woods this week at the U.S. Open after their controversy from the third round of the Players Championship. In a very bad attempt at humor, Sergio replied: “We’ll have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken.” Tiger of course did not take kindly to the remarks but has dropped the incident to focus on a possible fourth U.S. Open victory. Tiger however is coming off one of the worst performances of his professional career, where he tied for 65th at the Memorial two weeks ago, a tourney he’d won five times. But once again you have to give Tiger an edge because he did come to Merion two weeks ago before the Memorial and played in the rain to help him prepare for this week. “When I came up on Tuesday of Memorial, it was rainy, the ball wasn’t flying very far and I’m hitting the ball in the same spots now, because obviously it’s rainy and soft,” he said.