By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- As anyone who plays golf knows, and Steve Stricker was quick to point out late Sunday evening, the game of golf can "put you in your place rather quickly at times."
And Stricker's time came on the second hole Sunday as he hit his drive out of bounds, caught his third on the hosel and sent it there, too, on the way to a triple bogey that all but assured he wouldn't win the U.S. Open.
The 46-year-old had started the final round one shot off the lead but trailed by four when he stepped to the third green. He ended up shooting 41 on the front nine and 76 for 18, finishing in a tie for sixth at 6 over.
"But still a good week," Stricker said. "I competed well this week. I did a lot of good things. Surely not what I was looking for today, but still things I can build on and work towards when I play next at the John Deere (Classic)."
Stricker has cut back his schedule dramatically this year to spend more time with his family. He likely will only play 11 times, and he says he's benefitted by not as caught up in the ebb and flow of the game.
"I'm way easier on myself," he said. "I'm not over this yet, but it won't take me long to get over this. Golf is not the thing in my life as it once was. That was the reason why I scaled back. ...
"So it's kind of taken a back seat. I'm fine with that. I'm good with that. Sure, I'm disappointed I didn't play better today and have a chance to win, but, like I say, it's secondary in my life now, or even further back."
Stricker said he felt more comfortable on Sunday at Merion than he'd ever felt contending for a major.
"So that's a good sign," he said. "I'm running out of years, though, I think. It's not getting any easier as I get older. But at least ... the feelings that I have out there are that of calmness, I guess, and trusting my ability."
Even so, don't expect Stricker to travel to the UK next month.
"No, I think I missed the deadline to send in my entry for the British," he said. "So I won't be going over there."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Phil Mickelson has the record for most runner-up finishes in the U.S. Open at six, but Jason Day is quickly gaining ground on him.
The Aussie recorded is fourth career top-three finish in a major on Sunday, tying for second with Mickelson two strokes back of Justin Rose at the 113th U.S. Open.
Unlike Mickelson, however, there was nowhere near the same amount of heartbreak for the 25-year-old, who also finished third in the year's first major.
"I feel that my game is in a really good spot right now," said Day, who two years ago was (a distant) second to Rory McIlroy at the U.S. Open at Congressional. "I'm doing the right things. I'm doing the little things that count."
Unfortunately for Day, it was a couple of big numbers that cost him down the stretch on Sunday -- specifically bogeys on the 11th, 14th and 18th.
He made crucial par saves in between but should have never been in that position to begin with.
But for a player in his mid 20s with runner-up finishes in the year's first two majors, Day knows there's a silver lining.
"If I want it enough and I'm willing to do the hard work and practice and keep myself dedicated, I think it will happen," he said. "If I slack off and don't do the work then it won't happen. That's just plain and simple."
Justin Rose carded a final-round 70 to win the 113th U.S. Open on Sunday for his first major championship victory.
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The U.S. Open has come to the final few holes, with four players -- Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day and Hunter Mahan -- on the course vying for the title. We'll follow them down the stretch...
6:51 p.m. - Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan, playing in the final group, each bogeyed the par-4 15th. That leaves Mickelson at 2 over and Mhan at 3 over. Rose has the solo lead at 1 over as he begins play on the 18th hole. Day is already on the 18th at 2 over.
6:59 p.m. - Day is finished with his round. His final par putt at the 18th hole lipped out, and he settled for bogey and a round of 1-over 71. That leaves Day at 3 over, currently two shots out of the lead. A valiant effort by Day but it may come up just short.
7:10 p.m. -- Mickelson missed a birdie opportunity at the 16th and remains at 2 over. Rose, meanwhile, parred the 18th and is the new leader in the clubhouse at 1 over.
7:19 p.m -- Mickelson parred the 17th and Mahan bogeyed. Mickelson needs a birdie at the 18th to catch Rose. No player has made a birdie at the 18th this weekend.
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Martin Laird was probably speaking for the field when he called the final five holes at Merion the "hardest finish in golf I've ever played."
The 18th has played as the toughest this week while No. 15 ranks third and the 14th is the fifth hardest. Nos. 16 and 17 are no slouches, either, clocking in at ninth and seventh, respectively.
Of the three players tied for the lead at 1 over right now, Phil Mickelson has had the most success on the finishing stretch. He has played the five in 1 under with a bogey and a birdie at No. 18 and Saturday's dramatic birdie at the 17th that gave him the overnight lead.
Rose, on the other hand, has had the most trouble with the final five. He was 6 over prior to Sunday and just added two more bogeys at Nos. 14 and 16.
Mahan is 4 over for the stretch with just one birdie to his credit. The 18th hole has been the most problematic for him with a double bogey in the first round and bogeys in the next two.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- A 41 on the front nine Saturday and the drive he sent out of bounds at the 15th hole in the final round cost Jason Dufner dearly at the U.S. Open
That's because Dufner ended up 5 over for the championship after a 67 on Sunday that included six birdies to go along with the triple bogey at the 15th hole. The round of 3 under tied for the low of the tournament.
Had Dufner been able to post a slightly lower number he certainly would have given the leaders something to think about as they played the brutal finishing holes. Instead, he'll likely be settling for a top-10 finish and some self-satisfaction.
"Yeah, there's definitely some birdie holes out here," Dufner said. "You wouldn't expect to birdie six of them on one round. But I birdied five of what I termed to be the easier holes on this golf course.
"Unfortunately that front nine yesterday, and one bad swing on 15 today is probably going to end me up a few short."
Dufner said he had lots of opportunities Sunday, particularly on the front nine. He birdied the first and seventh holes to turn in 34, then added three more in the first four holes on the back. The final birdie was a bounce-back after the triple bogey but it ended up too little, too late.
"I felt pretty good all week, just had a rough year where I can't get anything going," Dufner said. "I had a really nice birdie on the first hole and made a great par on 3. And then made some birdies. If I miss either one of those putts early in the day, it might have been a different story. But it was nice having some things going my way."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Rory McIlroy had just hit into the water fronting the green on the par-4 11th hole. As he walked toward the hazard, his frustration boiled over and he stuck his wedge in the ground and bent it beyond repair.
"What you don't want to do as a golfer is follow one mistake with another, and that's what I did," McIlroy said of the wayward shot. "I think that's what this tournament does to you. At one point or another it's got the better of you, and it definitely did this weekend."
McIlroy made quadruple bogey on the hole and went on to shoot 76, finishing his week at 14 over.
The No. 2 player in the world who set a U.S. Open scoring record at Congressional two years ago, McIlroy was never in contention at Merion.
McIlroy made 20 bogeys (or worse) over four days, including a double bogey and the aforementioned quadruple bogey.
"Everyone hits bad shots, but mine are just costing me too much at the minute," said McIlroy, who has not been a factor in either of the year's first two majors.
McIlroy insists he is close, but he didn't look it this week.
Take his drive on the second hole of the third round, for example. Another bad miss well to the right led to a bogey on the par 5.
"When you hit a tee shot like that at the start of the round, it's sort of in your head the rest of the day," he said.
And all week, too.
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Maybe the golf gods are with Phil Mickelson after all.
The short game maestro just holed a wedge from 74 yards at the par-4 10th hole to get back into the lead at the U.S. Open. As the crowd roared, Mickelson celebrated by leaping into the air -- this time with more elevation than he did when he won the Masters.
Mickelson's eagle moved him to even par for the tournament and one stroke ahead of the pack. Minutes later, Justin Rose joined Mickelson in the lead when he birdied No. 12.
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Jason Dufner matched the low round of the week with a 67 Sunday at Merion Golf Club.
Now he'll see if it's good enough to win the U.S. Open.
Dufner and ernie Els are the clubhouse leaders at 5 over with the final groups just now hitting the back nine. Els shot 69.
Five others are ahead of them on the leaderboard at the moment, but players have struggled mightily with Merion's closing holes.
No one is under par at the moment with Jason Day, Justin Rose and Hunter Mahan leading at 1 over.
Phil Mickelson, who had the lead at the start of the day, is a stroke back after playing his first nine holes in 3 over. A five-time runner-up in this U.S. Open, Mickelson continues to burn the edge of holes with his putts.
Meanwhile, Rickie Fowler and Billy Horschel are both at 4 over.
ARDMORE, Pa. -- A 20-foot birdie putt snuck in the side door at the seventh hole and has lifted Justin Rose into a tie for the lead at the U.S. Open with Hunter Mahan.
Rose, who is bidding to become the first English winner since Tony Jacklin in 1970, has made three birdies, two bogeys and a pair of pars in his first seven holes to move to even par for the tournament. Mahan, on the other hand, has reeled off five pars.
Jason Day is one stroke off the lead after playing his first eight holes in 1 under. The last man to win a U.S. Open at Merion was his countryman David Graham, the first winner from Down Under at the national championship.
Overnight leader Phil Mickelson, who has made two double bogeys in his last three holes, has dropped back to 2 over while Billy Horschel is 3 over. Mickelson's five runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open are the most in history for a single player.
Charl Schwartzel, the former Masters champion who was tied for the lead with Mickelson when he birdied the first hole on Sunday, has fallen off the pace with four straight bogeys.
Jason Dufner, who lost in a playoff at the 2011 PGA, is working on one of the best rounds of the day. He was 5 under through 14 holes before a triple bogey at the 15th hole halted his momentum. Dufner birdied the next, though, and is now tied at 5 over with Ernie Els, Steve Stricker, Rickie Fowler, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and amateur Michael Kim.