Justin Rose admitted he had realised a childhood dream after claiming his first major title with a dramatic victory in the US Open. Rose carded a closing 70 to finish one over par at Merion and condemn Phil Mickelson to his sixth runners-up finish in the event on his 43rd birthday, the left-hander finishing two shots behind alongside Australian Jason Day.
Tony Jacklin was the last Englishman to win the US Open in 1970 —10 years before Rose was born — while Nick Faldo was the last to win a major (1996 US Masters).
“It feels fantastic, absolutely amazing,” said Rose, who finished fourth in the Open as a 17-year-old amateur in 1998 and missed 21 cuts in a row after turning professional the next day.
“Going forward it gives me a lot of confidence. I don’t know if it takes pressure off, but it’s a moment where you can look back and think childhood dreams have come true.”
The 32-year-old raised his fingers to the sky after tapping in for par on the last in tribute to his father Ken, a massive influence on his career who died from leukaemia in 2002.
“What a day,” he added. “I don’t know what to say, I’m thrilled. I just kept telling myself that (making bogeys) is what everyone is doing. You saw me look to the heavens with it being Father’s Day — I was just trying to remember my dad.
“My coach Sean Foley sent me a text this morning which said ‘Go out there and be the man that your dad taught you to be and that your kids can look up to’.”
Rose became the second consecutive 32-year-old to win a major championship following Adam Scott’s win at the Masters, and he added: “I took a lot of encouragement from Adam Scott. He sent me a fantastic text after the Masters which said ‘Your time is coming soon’. He is a wise man.”
With a one-shot lead playing the last, Rose hit a perfect drive down the fairway with his ball coming to rest just yards from the plaque which commemorates Ben Hogan’s one-iron to the final hole of the 1950 US Open, which helped get him into a play-off which he went on to win.
“I saw my ball in the fairway and I thought ‘this is my moment’,” Rose added. “I have seen that Ben Hogan photograph a million times and suddenly it was me with an iron into the fairway and two putts to win the US Open.
It was not quite two putts in the end (he hit a fairway wood ‘chip’ from the fringe) but I was just glad it worked out. I hit a great four iron shot so I feel like I did Hogan justice.”
Mickelson had taken a one-shot lead into the final round and reclaimed that advantage when he holed his second shot to the 10th for an eagle, only to drop three shots in the last six holes.