Sunday's Birdies and Bogeys

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Sunday's Birdies and Bogeys

June 15, 2013

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Justin RoseA player we were first introduced to as a 17-year-old surprise contender at the 1998 British Open went on to miss 21 consecutive cuts to start his pro career. Since then, though, Rose has evolved into an upper echelon tour player, a Ryder Cup stalwart for Europe, and now, a U.S. Open champion. In the July issue of Golf Digest, the 32-year-old Rose was identified through a statistical formula as the best iron player on tour. But that's not all that served him well at Merion, where he holed a number of clutch putts and hit the best drive of his life on the difficult par-4 18th hole on Sunday. With an even-par 70, Rose, who was born in South Africa but raised in England, becomes the first English winner of the U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970.

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Bogey: Phil MickelsonA holed wedge shot on No. 10 for an eagle made it appear like this would finally be Phil's time to win that elusive U.S. Open title. Unfortunately for Mickelson, he couldn't hole any more shots from off the green. Despite having what Johnny Miller described as "a million chances," Lefty needed 36 putts on his way to a 74. The T-2 gives him six runner-ups in the national championship, adding to his record. "This was my best chance of all of them," a heartbroken Mickelson said afterward.

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Birdie: Sean FoleyThe instructor has been the most scrutinized teacher in golf since taking on Tiger Woods in 2010, and yet Woods wasn't Foley's only reclamation project. Rose was first drawn to the sharp-dressed Canadian when he played alongside another Foley pupil, Sean O'Hair, and could see how much better O'Hair was striking the ball. "After watching Sean, I thought to myself: 'That is where I want to be,'" Rose said in 2011. It's fair to say Rose has since gone on to surpass O'Hair, and Foley deserves much of the credit. Throw in Hunter Mahan's T-4 at Merion and the fact that, oh yeah, Tiger Woods is back to being the No. 1 player in the world, and Foley could be expecting a few more calls from tour players in the days and weeks to come.

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Bogey: Luke DonaldOn Saturday evening, the former World No. 1 appeared poised to break through for his first major title, standing on the 17th tee with a one-shot lead. Even on Sunday, after parring the first two holes, he seemed in command. Then just like that, he wasn't. In a scary moment, Donald pulled his tee shot left on No. 3 and struck a volunteer who was following the group ahead. The young woman was OK, but Donald wasn't. He went on to make the first of four consecutive bogeys that killed his chances of an Open. In his 40th career major, Donald at least was relevant on the weekend, something he has scarcely been on weeks like these. The next challenge is to stick around a little longer.

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Birdie: Jason DufnerThe man with the Hogan-like waggle was stirring the ghost of Ben Hogan with a spirited Sunday run at Merion until a disastrous triple bogey on the 15th hole. He bounced back by birdieing No. 16, but his narrow misses on the closing two holes kept him from posting a number the leaders really had to worry about. Still, his 67 was the low round of the day and matched the low round all week. It was also an encouraging sign for the breakout player of 2012. Dufner's T-4 is his first top 10 of the season.

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Bogey: Steve StrickerWe expect to see golfers, even the world's best, struggle at the U.S. Open. But we didn't expect to see what happened to Stricker on Merion's second hole Sunday. In contention to be the oldest U.S. Open winner ever, the 46-year-old hit his tee shot out-of-bounds and then, after finding the fairway with his third, hit a full shank back onto Golf House Road. He did well to card a triple bogey, but the damage to his fading hopes of winning a major was already done.

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Birdie: MerionYes, it was a logistical challenge, and yes, the USGA could have raked in more cash at a bigger venue. But the East Course still proved its merit as a classic test. With its mixture of short, attack-able holes and brutal hold-on-for-dear-life holes, it boasted the type of variety most Open courses lack. And let's not forget how much was still in flux when rain pelted the course earlier in the week. Whether the Open will come back is a question worth asking. But if nothing else, this successful experiment will hopefully open the USGA's eyes to other venues that have been dismissed as "outdated".

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Bogey: Merion's Opening StretchThe punishment started early and it didn't let up until players got to the seventh tee. How hard were the first six holes on Sunday for the leaders? The players in the final four pairings played them in a combined 20-over par. That included Steve Stricker's OB-shank adventure on No. 2, Luke Donald's hooked tee shot that caught a volunteer on the head, and Phil Mickelson's two double bogeys in a three-hole stretch. Fittingly, the only two players to play the stretch in even par were Justin Rose and Jason Day, who finished first and tied for second, respectively.

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Birdie: Shawn StefaniWho says the par-3 17th hole is too tough? Stefani's tee shot didn't even land on the green and it went in! Thanks to a super-friendly bounce and roll, Stefani recorded the first ace at Merion in U.S. Open history and provided the crowd with one of the best celebrations of the week. After plucking his ball out of the hole, Stefani went over and kissed the grass on the hill that gave him the fortunate carom. He also finished with a 69 -- a remarkable turnaround from Saturday's 85.

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Bogey: Tiger WoodsAfter entering the week as the overwhelming favorite, the World No. 1 teed off on Sunday with virtually no chance of ending his five-year drought in major championships. The chance of a respectable finish also disappeared when he hit his drive on No. 2 OB on his way to a triple bogey. The 74 following his Saturday 76 left him at 13 over for the tournament -- his worst finish in relation to par as a pro in a major. Despite all his success this season (four PGA Tour wins), Woods will only have two more cracks at winning one of the events needed to have a truly great year.

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Birdie: Jason DayFor a guy with just one career PGA Tour title, the Australian sure knows how to contend in major championships. Just 25, Day already has four top-3 finishes in the game's biggest events, including a T-2 at Merion this week to go along with a solo third at the Masters in April. If Day keeps this up, Jack Nicklaus' majors record might be in more jeopardy than we thought -- his mark of 19 runner-ups, that is.

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Bogey: Hunter MahanComing off a Masters performance in which he shot 14-over par the first two days, Mahan should be commended for at least being around at all this weekend. But chances to win U.S. Opens are fleeting, and Mahan let his pass at Merion. After making it through Merion's torturous opening six holes in a respectable one over, he arrived at the 15th hole in a tie for the lead. But that's where he lost his footing, playing the last four holes in four-over par to finish four shots behind Rose.

Photo By: Getty Images

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