The rhetoric prior to the U.S. Open on Merion Golf Club was the course was short and hence, scoreable. Golden Gate Sports thought otherwise, due to the thick rough, narrow fairways, heavily pitched greens and worsening weather conditions. We were proven right, as every single golfer failed to finish in the red.
Justin Rose’s philosophy was simple: deliver par after par after par. Rose nearly did that, finishing 1-over par to clinch his first-ever major golf championship. The gallery watched as other contenders played themselves out of contention with double-bogeys–or worse. Rose avoided the big numbers by posting an even-par 70, including five birdies and five bogeys.
Crowd favorite Phil Mickelson scored a rare eagle on the 10th hole, but it wasn’t enough to overcome his double-bogeys on the third and fifth holes. Mickelson stumbled home with a bogey on the 18th hole, good for 74 on the day and 3-over par for the tournament, and a heart-breaking sixth U.S. Open runner-up finish. Australian Jason Day shot a respectable 71 in his final round to finished tied with Mickelson.
A group of Ernie Els, Hunter Mahan, Billy Horschel and Jason Dufner shared fourth place at 5-over par. Els closed with a solid 69, while the wheels fell off for Mahan, who played in the final group with Mickelson, and posted a disappointing 75. Even Dufner stumbled badly with his triple-bogey on the 15th hole on his way to an otherwise spectacular round of 67. Horschel, a second round co-leader, also struggled to a 74.
As much as the leaders struggled through the tough conditions, battling a downpour and swirling winds at times, other top golfers fared even worse. World Tour No.1-ranked and 3-time U.S. Open champion Tiger Woods closed with a 74 and posted his scorecard at 13-over par, well outside the leaderboard for the last two rounds. No. 2-ranked and 2011 U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy fared even worse with a closing 76, good for 14-over par.
The Merion course definitely had its way and chewed up all the world’s top golfers. But Justin Rose was the least beaten up and escaped with his first U.S. Open victory.