ARDMORE, Pa. — The most recent golden era of golf in England had everything but the one prize that brings credibility.
A major championship.
Lee Westwood and Luke Donald reached No. 1 in the world. Ian Poulter turned into a rock star in the Ryder Cup. There was a strong supporting cast that included Paul Casey. Always lurking, and finally delivering, was Justin Rose.
The only player at Merion who never had worse than a 71 over four demanding days, Rose passed his biggest test Sunday when he split the middle of the 18th fairway with his tee shot and hit a 4-iron that set him up for a par on the toughest hole to win the U.S. Open.
The question no longer is why the English can’t win a major. It’s who might be next.
“I really hope it does inspire them,” Rose said after his two-shot win over Phil Mickelson and Jason Day. “I think it was always going to be a matter of time before one of us broke through. It was just going to be who. And I always hoped it was going to be me to be the first, obviously. But I really hoped that it has broken the spell, and guys can continue to match up some for themselves.”
Westwood for the last five years gave England its best hope. A 15-foot birdie putt was all that kept him out of a playoff in the 2008 U.S. Open won by Tiger Woods. He missed another playoff at Turnberry in the 2009 British Open when he three-putted for bogey from long range on the 72nd hole. He had a one-shot lead going into the final round of the Masters in 2010, but couldn’t hold off Mickelson.
Donald became the first player to win the money title on the PGA Tour and European Tour in the same season, and he stayed at No. 1 for 56 weeks. That gave him the distinction of being No. 1 going into the most majors — seven — without ever having won.