• Day of Drama as Rose Shines Through - 2013 US Open Wrap-Up

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    Tenacity, perseverance,patience, a dose of humility, strategy and preparation. These were the keys to doing well at Merion Golf Club, in the weekend’s US Open of 2013.

    And having a swing of perfect tempo for excellent ball striking, coupled with proven consistency and performance, the required essentials for winning.

    Justin Rose, in becoming the first Englishman, although born in South Africa, became the first winner in 41 years from the UK. 32 years after David Graham of Windsor,Victoria was the last winner in a US Open at Merion. About the time Justin Rose was born.

    Rose won posting an even-par 70 and finishing the 2nd of the annual Majors at +1 by 2 shots over the Round 1 & 3 leader, Phil Mickelson and Queensland’s ‘pinoy Aussie’star, Jason Day. The lead switched several times during the course of the final round, as it had through the week. The lack of stunning round scores and the rigorous demands of the course meant the leader board was tight and bunched-up.

    The guys that prevailed and were in the a chance of chasing Mickelson’s 1 shot overnight lead had the opportunity to show that they are “the best” at this time, as many crumbled along the way, with big name players either missing the cut after 2 rounds with big numbers or just trying to scramble and make as fewer bogeys and worse as possible.
    Along the way many top golfers this week were left questioning their abilities or nerves.Hopefully none have been destroyed.

    Merion demanded the best and the eventual winner to get as close to par as possible. An equilibrium of the magic number 70. An equilibrium virtually unattainable. Yet almost is at+1. Many viewers no doubt and lucky enough to capture Fox Sports (another matter) fell in love with Merion and its old school design, shape, feel and toughness.
    Despite its comparative lack of length overall Merion this week demanded the absolute best of the best.The shorter par 4s each with some diabolical demands balanced against 5 monster holes where at 3 of them, the average score was closer to bogey than par. Those close to winning also demonstrated rare talents with nerves of steel and maintain“as much as possible” zen-factor.

    Here is a wrap-up of the leader board:
    +1 Winner –Justin Rose (England):
    Sterling performance. Steady throughout the final round. Kept his ball in play and rolled with the punches. Played strategically to position compromising birdies at the danger holes and avoiding disaster. Prepared for the tournament well in advance practicing and understanding Merion nuances and vagaries. He maintained that elusive zen and is now a champion of the game/sport.

    +3 Runners-Up –Phil Mickelson (USA), Jason Day (Australia):
    Mickelson, a 4-time major winner and most creative shotmaker in the game, a 6th runner up post in the Major he yearns towin. On his 43rd birthday, the Sun gods eluded him. Was granted adeserving eagle at 10, with a holed out wedge that demanded no margin for error.

    Demonstrated his bravery and sheer ability yet again. Birdie putt chances slipped by, and so close. Played some of the strongest shots t greens on the lengthier par-4s and3s. Couple of poor drives his undoing to a 74 for the day. Needed to hole out a birdie chip at the last to tie for play off and had a crack. Could have played
    for par and finished with more dough but wanted to win more.

    Day collected his 4th top 5 finish in the last 9 Majors played. Backed up his stellar performance at the Masters. A 2nd US Open runner-up on the previous one in 2011. At 25 he is blistering and is a crowd favorite with the American golfing audience and galleries. Married his American sweetheart a couple of years ago. The boy from Beaudesert has the nerve of a seasoned champ and is due. Maybe the British Open or US PGA this year. Played almost flawlessly. Saved par well but alas not on 18 missing a tricky 5-footer for a 68. Showed his like-ability on tour in celebrating with Rose.

    +5 (tied for 4th)– Hunter Mahan (USA), Jason Dufner (USA), Ernie Els (South Africa), BillyHorschel (USA):
    Mahan, a regular top 10 finisher in the US and 5-time top 10 Major finishes since 2007 could not quite seize the moment. Was right in the hunt so to speak until a couple of costly errors in the last few holes pushed him just too far back. Had the lead,or shared it for almost an hour during the day. At 31, also due and looking good for a Major soon.

    Dufner almost played the round of tournament with a 67. If not for a disaster drive at 14 could have easily posted a 64 or 65 and stole the show. A great comeback for the burly Cleveland guy with 3 previous top 5 Major finishes in the last 4 years. Also due. Maybe his game is back after Sunday. Has been off his game this year.

    Els just demonstrated his craft and sustained professional ethic. Solid composed round from the reigning British Open champion and 4-time Major winner. A 69 that could easily have been a 66 or 67.
    Horschel started the day one shot off the pace. An in form tour player on the move. Didn’t backup on his Round 3 efforts. Struggled early to drop out of realistic contention but fought hard to be steady in the remainder of his round. A worthy performance and demonstrated great natural sportsmanship in urging a long birdie putt of his playing partner, Jason Day to drop in the cup No doubt they became friends over the few hours and will have some incredible shared memories. Showed less in his choice of trousers for the day. Looked like he was in Hawaii in the 70s.

    +6 (tied for 8th)– Luke Donald (England), Steve Stricker (USA):
    Feel for Donald.One shot behind overnight and blew his chances early. The long par 4s of 16 and 18, tested his capacity for length with his driving on Saturday, as did the on par 3, 3rd on Sunday. An overcooked drive with driver into the wind missed the green significantly and hit a standard-bearer for the preceding group adjacent to the 4th tee. Donald, a former world number one and 5-time with top- 5 Major finishes struggles for a Major.

    Demonstrated something else aside from his otherwise brilliant game and that was compassion and concern for the young woman struck by his ball. Was clearly upset and followed up the next 3 holes with some uncharacteristic poor shots to drop out of contention early.

    Stricker also played 2 of the most uncharacteristic shots of his life out of bounds on the par 5 2nd to blow it early. Had been steady through the course of the week. With 8 top-10 Major finishes the Wisconsin 46 year old was well overdue for this kind of success yet something flashed through his mind for the worst 10 minutes of his golfing life. Will we ever know? Hit 2 mug shots and showed that even the most consistent and one of the best, are human. Poor Steve,I was kind of ‘rooting’ for him.

    Notable mentions: Hideki Matsuyama from Japan posting a final round 67, to equal the round of the day, and tournament.

    Meltdown Do Your ‘Nana Moment: Rory McIlroy breaking a club after a 2nd shot into the creek at 14. Off his game with a lot of frustrating birdie misses. Even I thought he was really stiff and could empathize with his frustration. At 14 he cracked and so almost his club, or at least with a distinctive bend in the shaft. Needs to chill out and see me for some astrological insight into his psyche.

    Tiger: Also could do with chilling out. His desperation pushes his desire for another Major title away. If he plays like he does on the US Tour, and that is often win, he will have no worries. Not his week but he is not far away.

    Photos borrowed with courtesy of www.uspga.com
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