Justin Rose tells CNN his U.S. Open victory is a boyhood dream come true
Rose's victory poignant on Father's Day as he remembered his late dad Ken
Englishman beat Jason Day and Phil Mickelson into second place at Merion
Rose becomes first Englishman to win a major championship in 17 years
As Justin Rose emerged onto the 18th fairway and saw his ball just yards from the spot where Ben Hogan fired his famous one iron to the green in 1950, he knew it was his moment to seize the U.S. Open crown.
The 32-year-old knew if he could repeat Hogan’s par on the notoriously tricky 18th hole at Merion in Pennsylvania he could end England’s 43-year wait for a champion in America’s national championship.
With thoughts of his late father Ken swirling round his mind, Rose struck a near-perfect approach shot and duly completed par.
When Phil Mickelson failed to birdie the same hole moments later, Rose had sealed his first major triumph.
It meant success at the 37th time of asking for Rose, who became the first Englishman to win a major since Nick Faldo’s Masters success in 1996.
“I just had to stand up there and be counted,” he told CNN World Sport. “It was a major, it was my moment, it was stand up and deliver.
“It was a special moment when I walked over the hill and saw my ball sitting right there on the up slope in the middle of the fairway.
“Hogan definitely popped into my mind because I know he hit the green and two-putted to get into a playoff.
“Someone had chirped from the crowd ‘Rose, a good iron shot, two putts and its yours.’ And in a sense that was all I was trying to do at that point.”
Rose held his nerve at the end of a day that fluctuated wildly, as crowd favorite Phil Mickelson desperately tried to nail down victory in a tournament he had finished runner up in five times.
An audacious chip in for eagle from Mickleson at the tenth hole swung the momentum his way but Rose responded immediately, with birdies at the 12th and 13th.
And as he negotiated the fiendishly difficult closing stretch of holes in just one-over-par, it left Mickelson needing a birdie on the last to force a playoff.
He couldn’t, which left an emotional Rose with his own special moment on Father’s Day, as he remembered his dad Ken, who lost his battle with cancer in 2002.
“I’ve thought about my dad quite a bit this week,” Rose explained to Living Golf anchor Shane O’Donoghue.
“Saturday I was driving to the course and I looked in the rear view mirror and saw my eyes and that was one thing my dad always knew – he could tell by the look in my eyes if I was going to play well or not.
“I thought ‘I wonder how my dad thinks I’m going to play today.’ I always knew the U.S. Open finishes on Father’s Day and I’d been in contention most of the week and I really wanted that moment I could share with him and honor him.
“He sacrificed so much for me and taught me the game. I’ve seen Rory (McIlroy) celebrate with his dad, G-Mac (Graeme McDowell) celebrate with his dad.
“I’ve always thought that moment must just be so special and for me, today, it was special in my own way.”
The new world No. 3 burst onto the scene as an amateur at the 1998 British Open when he finished fourth. But that early promise stalled as he missed 21 cuts in a row after turning professional.
He has steadily been working his way towards the summit of the game with notable victories on the PGA Tour and a stellar showing for Europe in the Ryder Cup at Medinah last year.
But he revealed it is only recently he has felt his game was equipped to capture one of golf’s major prizes.
“I’ve been a pro a long time now – 14 or 15 years – but not until recently have I felt truly ready,” he said.
“You try and kid yourself you are ready but this is one of the first majors I’ve ever played where I came in knowing if I go about my business I’m going to be hard to beat.
“It’s just a really nice feeling to have that cleared off the plate now fairly early and it’s a lot of boyhood dreams paying off.”