Rose the Champion, Merion the Story
Adam Scott thought he’d won the Masters as he rolled in a thirty-footer on the eighteenth and let out the primal scream August National had waited to hear from an Australian since The Shark’s great fade handed Faldo his final major championship.
Scott had forgotten about Argentinian former-chimney Angel Cabrera. El Pato forgot about the pressure and the stage and the crowd and course and landed one of the gutsiest approach shots you’ll ever see. Birdie. Playoff.
Great players. Great shots. Great moments. That’s why we love major championships.
What will be the lasting images from Merion? A plague of missed three-footers? Shawn Stefani lucking into an ace on the 17th after landing his tee shot in the rough? Phil Mickelson holing from the fairway on 10 and subsequently blowing another chance to claim his national championship? Justin Rose using a three-wood in the thick stuff off the 18th green? Hell, the most memorable shot for any amateur golfer Sunday was Steve Stricker channeling his inner municipal course demons and dead-shanking a layup into a home economics classroom on the Haverford campus.
Rory McIlroy broke a club. Jason Dufner tried to drown one. Is this what we want out of the “toughest test in golf”?
Close games do not always equate to exciting ones and Merion’s stacked leaderboard Sunday did not lead to exciting golf. When the US Open returns to the Land of the Red Wicker Basket in twenty years they’ll still be talking about Ben Hogan and the car wreck, Trevino and the snake, David Graham and perfection off the fairways. They won’t be putting a plaque behind the 18th green for Rosie and his three wood.
Tiger or the field? This week the field won. The literal field. The course landed uncontested jabs to the jaws of the best golfers in the universe and as the sun set Sunday night Justin Rose had the least amount of blood pouring from his mouth.
We glimpse into the future. Five years. Clubhouse bar after a tough morning eighteen.
MAN 1: Who won the Open that year?
MAN 2: Was that Rose?
MAN 1: Yea, yea I think that was Rose. At Merion.
MAN 2: Do you remember anything else about that tournament?
MAN 1: Yea. It was hard.
MAN 2: Oh yea. It was.
MAN 1: And Mickelson blew it.
No, the US Open should ever be an easy chore. But it should be an entertaining one. That was the only test Merion did not pass this week.