They wanted Phil in Philly, serenading him with off-key attempts at "Happy Birthday," chanting his name as he strode down fairways, all but imploring Lefty to hole a nearly impossible pitch shot on the 18th hole that would keep the U.S. Open alive for another day.
The ball, of course, bounded by the wicker basket-topped flagstick at Merion, assuring that Englishman Justin Rose would become the first Briton to win the U.S. Open in more than 40 years.
While Phil Mickelson was left to lament another near-miss at the U.S. Open -- he called it "heartbreaking" -- the 32-year-old Rose offered up another feel-good major winner, a guy who had his own history with 72nd-hole pitch shots.
Rose holed a shot from off the green at the 1998 Open Championship as a 17-year-old amateur to tie for fourth, sending him on an up-and-down odyssey that saw him capture his first major with a solid round of even-par 70 on Sunday.
"It feels fantastic," said Rose, who was born in South Africa, grew up in England, became a citizen of the United Kingdom and now lives in Orlando, Fla. "I committed myself to the process this week. I committed myself to putting a strategy in place that I hoped would work in five-to-10 years in delivering major championships. And I tried to strike on that feeling the first week out, first time I tried and tested it to come out with the silver. And it feels absolutely amazing.
"Going forward gives me a lot of confidence. I don't know if it takes pressure off, but it's a moment where you can look back and think childhood dreams have come true."
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