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Justin Rose holds the US Open trophy.Picture: REUTERS/Adam Hunger

Justin Rose holds the US Open trophy.Picture: REUTERS/Adam Hunger

Justin Rose holds the US Open trophy.Picture: REUTERS/Adam Hunger

FORMER champions Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell today led the tributes to Justin Rose after he followed in their footsteps by winning his first major title 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 in the 1996 US Masters.

But Rose is the third European winner of the US Open in the last four years following McDowell's win at Pebble Beach in 2010 and McIlroy's eight-shot triumph at Congressional 12 months later.

McIlroy, who bent a club in frustration after a quadruple-bogey eight on the 11th on his way to a closing 76, wrote on Twitter: "So happy for @JustinRose99! Couldn't happen to a better lad!"

And McDowell added: "Congratulations to @JustinRose99. Best player in the world the last few years. Major much deserved. #respect."

Rose began the day two shots off the lead held by Mickelson, but with Merion playing havoc with the leading groups, an outward nine containing three birdies and two bogeys was enough to give him a one-shot lead.

After a three-putt bogey on the 11th, Rose heard the roars from behind as Mickelson holed his approach from the rough from 76 yards for an eagle on the 10th to jump back to the top of the leader board.

But the 32-year-old promptly hit his second shot to the 12th to two feet for birdie and holed from 20ft for another at the 13th to reclaim the lead before the forecast rain arrived to make life even more difficult as he began the daunting closing stretch.

The last five holes were all ranked among the nine toughest for the week, with the 18th the hardest at an average of 4.71. Mickelson had played that stretch in one under par, Rose in six over.

The 14th and 16th duly cost Rose shots, but Mickelson bogeyed the 13th and 15th to leave Rose heading to the 18th tee with a one-shot lead over the American and Day, who then bogeyed the last.

A perfect drive down the fairway saw Rose's ball come to rest just yards from the plaque which commemorates Ben Hogan's one-iron in the same situation in the 1950 US Open, a shot which helped get him into a play-off the following day which he went on to win 16 months after a near-fatal car crash. "I saw my ball in the fairway and I thought, 'This is my moment'," Rose said.

"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."

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, added: "It feels fantastic, absolutely amazing."

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 leukemia in 2002.


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