June 16, 2013: Justin Rose becomes the first British golfer to win the U.S. Open in 43 years when he passes Phil Mickelson and takes the title by two strokes. In fact, no Brit had won any of the four majors since Nick Faldo took the 1996 Masters. Rose was one-over for the tournament as no one broke par over 72 holes on the wicked Merion course, hosting the Open for the first time since 1981. Mickelson remained winless in the U.S. Open, tying for the runnerup spot with Jason Day and finishing second for a record sixth time as he tried to celebrate his 43rd birthday.
Ahem, I’d rather this be about Rose than Mickelson. Rose is in contention more often than not, but the 2013 U.S. Open remains his only victory in a major (he’s finished second twice at the Masters and once at the Open Championship). Rose spent 13 weeks as the world’s top-ranked golfer in late 2018 and early 2019. Little-known fact: With his gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Rose became one of only five golfers to win pro tournaments on all six continents. The others are Gary Player, David Graham, Bernhard Langer and Hale Irwin.
Tony Jacklin had been the last U.S. Open champion from England, winning in 1970. U.S. golfers captured the trophy in 22 of the next 23 years before South Africa’s Ernie Els (an Albertsons Boise Open alum who I talked about Wednesday) won in 1994. After Rose’s title, Martin Kaymer of Germany was U.S. Open champion in 2014, to be followed by six straight American champions. Spain’s Jon Rahm ended that run last year with his victory at Torrey Pines.
Eagle’s Ty Travis is an alternate in this year’s U.S. Open, which tees off today in Brookline, MA. Travis is back there just in case and got to play a practice round with Rose on Tuesday. It was a great time to observe Rose’s game, as he was coming off a final-round 60 last Sunday at the RBC Canadian Open. The late surge lifted him 15 spots on the leaderboard—all the way into a fourth-place tie behind Rory McIlroy.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)