Rose tops Mickelson to win first major at U.S. Open

By Doug FergusonJune 17, 2013, 12:43 am

ARDMORE, Pa. – A steady hand gave Justin Rose the shiny U.S. Open Trophy. A wild ride gave Phil Mickelson yet another silver medal.

Rose captured his first major championship on Sunday with remarkable calm and three pure shots on the punishing closing holes at Merion. A par on the 18th hole gave him an even-par 70, and that was good enough to become the first Englishman in 43 years to win America's national championship.

Rose hit 5-iron to the first cut of rough, pin-high on the 17th for an easy par. He smashed the most important tee shot of his career down the middle on the final hole, about 15 feet short of the famous Ben Hogan plaque. And his 4-iron rolled near the pin and settled against the collar of the green.

''When I came over the hill and saw my ball laying in the fairway, I thought, 'This is my moment.' It was me hitting from the middle of the fairway,'' Rose said.

As usual, someone's big moment in the U.S. Open came at Mickelson's expense.

Rose was in the scoring area a half-mile from the grandstands behind the 18th green where the fans began to chant, ''Let's go Phil!'' as Mickelson paced off a last-ditch effort to force a playoff. It was a long shot – the 18th hole didn't yield a single birdie all weekend. From about 40 yards away, Mickelson's chip for birdie raced by the cup, securing Rose's victory.


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Mickelson, already in the U.S. Open record book with five second-place finishes, added another that will hurt as much any of them.

Sunday was his 43rd birthday. It was the first time he was equipped with the outright lead going into the last day. His week began with a cross-country trip home to San Diego to watch his oldest daughter graduate from the eighth grade, returning just three hours before his tee time on Thursday. This was the same daughter born the day after his first runner-up finish in 1999.

All the stars were aligned. None of the putts fell in.

Mickelson surged back into the lead by holing out from 75 yards in thick rough on the 10th hole for eagle, another moment that made it seem like surely was his time. The cheer could be heard across the road, through the trees, loud enough that Rose knew exactly what had happened.

But on the easiest hole at Merion, Mickelson drilled a wedge over the green on the par-3 13th and made bogey.

What hurt Mickelson even more was a wedge from about 121 yards on the 15th hole. It should have given him a good look at birdie, but it came up so short that Mickelson's best chance was to use one of his five wedges to chip from the front of the green. He hit that one too far, 25 feet by the hole, and the bogey wound up costing him a chance at the major he covets.

Mickelson wound up with a bogey on the 18th for a 74 and tied for second with Jason Day, who closed with a 71.

''Heartbreak,'' Mickelson said. ''This is tough to swallow after coming so close. This was my best chance of all of them. I had a golf course I really liked. I felt this was as good an opportunity as you could ask for. It really hurts.''

Day appeared to salvage his round by chipping in for bogey on the 11th hole, and he was still in the picture when he made a 12-foot par putt on the 17th to stay one shot behind. But he put his approach into the bunker left of the 18th green, blasted out to about 7 feet and missed the putt.

The back nine was a four-way battle that included Hunter Mahan, who played in the last group with Mickelson. He was one shot out of the lead until he three-putted the 15th hole for a double bogey, and then closed with back-to-back bogeys when his hopes were gone. Mahan had a 75 and tied for fourth with Billy Horschel (74), Ernie Els (69) and Jason Dufner, who had a 67 despite making triple bogey on the 15th hole.

Rose finished at 1-over 281, eight shots higher than David Graham's winning score in 1981 when the U.S. Open was last held at Merion. The shortest course for a major championship in nearly a decade held up just fine. It was the third time in the last four years that no one broke par in the toughest test of golf.

The last Englishman to win the U.S. Open was Tony Jacklin at Hazeltine in 1970, though Rose added to recent dominance of the Union Jack at the U.S. Open as the third winner in four years. The others were Graeme McDowell (2010) and Rory McIlroy (2011) of Northern Ireland.

Walking off the 18th green, he looked through the patchy clouds and point to the sky, a nod to his late father, Ken, who died of leukemia in September 2002.

''I couldn't help but look up at the heavens and think my old man Ken had something to do with it,'' Rose said.

It seems like more than 15 years ago when Rose first starred on the major scene as a 17-year-old amateur who chipped in on the final hole at Royal Birkdale in the 1998 British Open and tied for fourth. He turned pro the next week, and then missed the cut in his first 21 tournaments. But he stayed the course and slowly picked off big tournaments - including the AT&T National in 2010 just down the road at Aronimink.

The U.S. Open takes him to another level and moves him to No. 3 in the world.

''Just for the last few years has been known as one of the best ball-strikers in the game. He showed that today,'' said Luke Donald, who played alongside him. ''To win a U.S. Open, you have to have the ultimate control of your golf ball. He did that. He hit some really clutch iron shots down the stretch.''

Tiger Woods turned out to be nothing more than an afterthought. He hit out-of-bounds on his second hole and made triple bogey, and closed with a 74 to finish at 13-over 293, his worst score as a pro in the U.S. Open, and matching his worst score in any major.

The score wasn't nearly that bad considering the golf course, with its tricky contours on the greens and punishing rough.

Mickelson wore all black when he arrived for the final round, and in a brief TV interview he said, ''The best for me is to play well and have fun.''

Sunday at the U.S. Open is rarely fun.

Just ask Donald, who was only two shots behind starting the final round. It all crumbled when he pulled his tee shot on the par-3 third hole – so long and hard that Donald hit a driver – and struck a standard-bearer. She was on the ground for several minutes, and Donald appeared visibly shook. He made bogey, and then followed that with two bogeys and a double bogey. He shot 42 on the back nine.

Steve Stricker took his lumps on one hole, and it was ugly. One shot behind, he pushed his tee shot on the par-5 second hole out-of-bounds. After hitting the next tee shot into the fairway, he tried to lay up with a 4-iron and hit a shank out-of-bounds. Stricker had to make a 7-foot putt to escape with a triple-bogey 8.

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, trying to give South Africa a major for the fourth straight year, opened with a birdie and a tie for the lead. That became a distant memory, however, when he dropped seven shots over the seven holes and closed out his front nine with a 42.

Horschel wore pants with octopus prints, and he putted like he had eight arms. Out in 39, he opened the back nine with a pair of three-putts.

For a short time, it looked as though Mickelson might join this parade of pretenders when he three-putted for double bogey twice in three holes on the front nine. And then came his shot out of the rough on the 10th, and he was on his way – but not for long.

Rose made his share of mistakes, too, like the three-putt bogey on the 11th and a horrible shot out of the bunker on the 14th. The difference was his approach into the 12th to 3 feet, followed by a 20-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole.

With Mickelson watching so many putts graze the lip, that cushion was all that Rose needed.

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Garcia 2 back in storm-halted Andalucia Masters

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 7:08 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Ashley Chesters was leading on 5-under 66 at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters when play was suspended because of darkness with 60 golfers yet to complete their weather-hit first rounds on Thursday.

More than four hours was lost as play was twice suspended because of stormy conditions and the threat of lightning at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain.

English journeyman Chesters collected six birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over Gregory Bourdy of France. Tournament host and defending champion Sergio Garcia was on 68 along with fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, and Australia's Jason Scrivener.

''It's a shame I can't keep going because the last few holes were the best I played all day. Considering all the delays and everything, I'm very happy with 5 under,'' Chesters said. ''The forecast for the rest of the week is not very good either so I thought I'll just make as many birdies as I can and get in.''

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Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend

By Rex HoggardOctober 18, 2018, 3:33 pm

After nearly four years of litigation, a group of PGA Tour caddies have dropped their lawsuit against the circuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed in California in early 2015, centered on the bibs caddies wear during tournaments and ongoing attempts by the caddies to improve their healthcare and retirement options.

The caddies lost their class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court and an appeal this year.

Separately, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was not involved in the lawsuit but represents the caddies to the Tour, began negotiating with the circuit last year.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the APTC.

In January 2017, Jay Monahan took over as commissioner of the Tour and began working with the APTC to find a solution to the healthcare issue. Sajtinac said the Tour has agreed to increase the stipend it gives caddies for healthcare beginning next year.

“It took a year and a half, but it turned out to be a good result,” Sajtinac said. “Our goal is to close that window for the guys because healthcare is such a massive chunk of our income.”

The Tour did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the agreement or the end to the lawsuit.

Caddies have received a stipend from the Tour for healthcare for some time, and although Sajtinac wouldn’t give the exact increase, he said it was over 300 percent. Along with the APTC’s ability to now negotiate healthcare plans as a group, the new stipend should dramatically reduce healthcare costs for caddies.

“It’s been really good,” said Sajtinac, who did add that there are currently no talks with the Tour to created a retirement program for caddies. “Everybody is really excited about this.”

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PGA Tour Latinoamérica moving season finale to Doral

By Nick MentaOctober 18, 2018, 2:36 pm

PGA Tour Latinoamérica announced Wednesday that it will play its season finale, the Latinoamérica Tour Championship-Shell Championship, at Trump National Doral from Nov. 29-Dec. 2.

The limited-field event will feature the top 60 players on the circuit's money list competing on Doral's Golden Palm Course.

“We are very happy that we will continue playing the Latinoamérica Tour Championship-Shell Championship in South Florida, and Doral is a tremendous community that we know will open its arms to our players and this tournament,” PGA Tour Latinoamérica president Jack Warfield said in a statement.

The PGA Tour ended its more than 50-year relationship with Doral and the resort's Blue Monster course back in 2016, when Cadillac's title sponsorship of the World Golf Championship lapsed as then-candidate Donald Trump was mounting his bid for the presidency.

“We continue to stand by our earlier statement, and the statement of other golf organizations, that Mr. Trump's comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf,” then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in December 2015, referring to Trump's campaign rhetoric concerning Mexicans and Muslims.

The event was moved to Mexico City in 2017 and renamed the WGC-Mexico Championship.

The Latinoamérica Tour Championship was staged the last two years at Melreese Country Club in Miami, where David Beckham is currently attempting to build a stadium for his Major League Soccer expansion club, Inter Miami.

PGA Tour Latinoamérica's release states that the move to Doral "keeps the event in this part of the Sunshine State and allows the tournament to maintain its ties to The First Tee of Miami as a charitable recipient and sponsor." Melreese, the city's only public golf course, is home to the First Tee of Miami, which naturally opposes Beckham's efforts to close the facility and repurpose the land.

A November referendum will ask voters to decide if the city should negotiate a no-bid lease with Beckham's ownership group, which seeks to create a $1 billion dollar complex comprising of the proposed stadium, youth soccer fields, a park, commercial and retail space, and a hotel.

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Im wins Web.com Player and Rookie of the Year awards

By Nick MentaOctober 18, 2018, 1:22 pm

Sungjae Im on Thursday was named the Web.com Tour's 2018 Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year.

Im won twice on the Web.com this year, taking the season opener in January, The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, and the season finale in August, the WinCo Foods Portland Open, to become the first player in history lead the circuit's money list wire-to-wire.

Im is the first Korean-born player to win the Web's POY award and, at 20 years old, its youngest recipient.

In a player vote, Im bested Anders Albertson, Sam Burns, Kramer Hickok and Martin Trainer, 2018's only other two-time winner, for POY honors, and Burns, Hickock, Trainer and Cameron Champ for ROY honors.

“My first year on the Web.com Tour was an incredibly happy time for me,” Im said, “and it’s pretty surreal that I was able to win the first and last tournament of the season. I honestly thought I would spend about two to three years on the Web.com Tour before making it to the PGA Tour, so I’m happy to have achieved my goal so soon. I’m grateful to have earned the Player of the Year honors and I hope to finish the remainder of the PGA Tour season on a good note.”

In his first PGA Tour start, Im tied for fourth at the Safeway Open, earning $241,280, a little less than half of the $534,326 he amassed in 25 starts as the Web's regular-season money winner.

Playing this week's CJ Cup in his native South Korea, Im opened with a 1-over 73 Thursday.