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U.S. Open title by Justin Rose is fitting Father’s Day tribute

U.S. Open - Round Four

U.S. Open - Round Four

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Updated: June 16, 2013 10:13PM

ARDMORE, Pa. — After nearly holing out his 3-wood chip from the back of the 18th green Sunday and finishing with a one-shot lead, Justin Rose looked skyward.

His emotions spent, he couldn’t help but think of his father, Ken, who died of leukemia in 2002, after coaching Rose and instilling his passion for golf.

“The look up to the heavens was absolutely for my dad,’’ Rose said. “Father’s Day was not lost on me today. You don’t have opportunities to really dedicate a win to someone you love. And today was about him and being Father’s Day. I got a beautiful text that said, ‘Go out and be the man your dad taught you to be and be the man that your kids can be proud of and look up to.’ That’s how I tried to carry myself out there. My dad was the inspiration the whole day.’’

While waiting to see if Phil Mickelson could catch him, Rose put his head in his hands, the emotions still welling up as his wife, Kate, comforted him.

Mickelson couldn’t do it. Again.

The popular left-hander’s last, desperate 18th-hole chip slid past the cup, allowing the South African-born Englishman to be the last man standing in another U.S. Open battle for survival. He is the first golfer from England to win the U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970.

Rose, 32, shot an even-par 70 on Sunday to finish the tournament at 1 over par, two shots ahead of Mickelson and Jason Day. It’s the sixth runner-up finish in the U.S. Open for Mickelson, who shot 74 after holding a one-shot lead going into the final round.

“It’s very heart breaking,’’ Mickelson said. “I think this was my best chance. This one’s probably the toughest for me, because at 43 and coming so close five times, it would have changed the way I look at this tournament and the way I would have looked at my record. Except I just keep feeling heartbreak.’’

A key reason: In 23 U.S. Open appearances, Mickelson has been under par in the final round once, in 2008, when he was out of contention.

Mickelson bounced back from double-bogeys on No. 3 and No. 5 by dropping in a wedge for an eagle 2 on the 10th hole. That gave him a one-shot lead.

But Rose birdied Nos. 12 and 13. And when Mickelson missed a makeable birdie putt on the 16th, it was advantage Rose, who stayed on top with solid pars on the last two holes.

“For the last few years, Justin has been known as one of the best ball strikers in the game. He showed that today,’’ said his friend and countryman, Luke Donald, who faded while paired with Rose on Sunday.

Donald, who shot 75, was not alone. Steve Stricker (76), Hunter Mahan (75) and Charl Schwarzel (78) also faded on a surprisingly rugged Merion course.

“I thought 6‑under par would maybe be the winning total,’’ Rose said. “It surprised everybody. This course held up amazingly well.’’

On a very testing day, so did Rose.

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