After the shortest of tap-ins on Merion’s 18th green last evening, the first thing Justin Rose did was look to skies.
His late father Ken, whom Rose lost to leukemia 11 years ago, was no doubt looking down as his son offered up the perfect Father’s Day gift – the 2013 U.S. Open title. Ken Rose was, and is, the defining influence in his son’s career, a career which has negotiated the ups and downs and demands of modern day professional golf, and one that finally produced a hard-earned major championship victory.
His mercurial final round of level par 70 was indeed a suitable analogy to Rose’s career, featuring plenty of highs and lows (six birdies and six bogeys). But his patience, dedication, and class won out in the end. Both his drive and approach to the last were arrow-like, two of the finest shots he has ever struck.
Producing this quality in such a pressured environment will give Rose far more than this first major victory, as the confidence gained from such an experience will harden his resolve and belief as he pursues further major honours – a pursuit that I have no doubt will be fruitful.
On a golf course as brutally difficult as Merion was this week, shooting rounds of 71, 69, 71 and 70 is nothing short of spectacular, a feat worthy of a truly great champion.
As popular as Rose’s victory will prove, you cannot help but feel for Phil Mickelson, another truly great champion. Mickelson did his best to roll with the punches that inevitably come when you play the game in the inimitable style in which he does, but for the sixth time at the U.S. Open, he fell just short. His final round of 74 left him two shots behind Rose.
Hats off also to Jason Day, who performed wonderfully to join Mickelson in second place. The Australian proved yet again that he can, and surely will, add a major title to his credentials in the near future.
Rose, Mickelson and Day are truly three of golf’s good guys, and apart from Day’s slow play, are a tremendous advertisement for the sport. All three conduct themselves impeccably, which is more than can be said for Rory McIlroy’s childish club-breaking antics yesterday.
With Rose, Mickelson and Day forming the top trio and Adam Scott beating Angel Cabrera in a play-off to take the U.S. Masters in April, 2013 is looking like being the year of the nice guy.