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Schwartzel gives way; Mickelson ends up all wet

BETHESDA, Md. -- As it usually does, the U.S. Open put a quick end to thoughts of a Grand Slam. What was unusual was the surreal scene that played out Sunday involving the last major winner and the newest one.

Masters champ Charl Schwartzel arrived at the 18th green just as Rory McIlroy was getting to the No. 10 tee box across the lake. The holes are close enough so that the galleries often roar as one.

The reception for McIlroy was deafening; Schwartzel waited for it to die down before putting. When McIlroy put his tee shot within a foot of the pin on the par 3, the place went nuts.

"That was pretty spectacular there," Schwartzel said. "I saw him on the tee and I obviously stopped and watched and that was a pretty decent roar that went up there. That was pretty cool to see."

Schwartzel, by the way, made his putt, celebrating with a fist pump after a 15-footer for par that kept his round bogey-free. His 66 put him at 4 under for the championship, a U.S. Open score that often would have been good enough for a Masters champion to make it two majors in a row.

Schwartzel, though, said he began the tournament thinking 10-under par would be the winning score.

"I played pretty spectacular today, actually," he said. "I wish I had four of these."

***

Phil Mickelson's U.S. Open ended where it began, in the same body of water.

On his last hole of the championship Sunday, Mickelson stood in a greenside bunker and launched a rainbow that splashed on the fly, some 15 feet beyond the other side of the peninsula green. Even the adoring gallery that had cheered so loudly during his walk up the fairway couldn't help but let out a collective giggle.

After two unsuccessful drops on the steep lakeside slope, he had to place the ball and chip back toward the pin, where he made a 6-footer for double bogey to finish an even par round of 71 and a 7-over total of 291.

"That bunker's not an easy spot to be in today," Mickelson said, "and I hit a poor shot on top of it."

The lake also received Mickelson's opening shot in his first round on Thursday, when he started on the nearby par 3 10th and left his tee shot well short. He double bogeyed that hole as well.

Mickelson's 69 on Friday was his only round under par on a course receptive for U.S. Open scores lower than the norm.

"I thought that the soft conditions obviously made it a little bit easier than everybody had hoped, but the setup was wonderful," he said. "I just didn't play how I'd hoped."

After his round, Mickelson walked past the putting green and spotted runaway leader Rory McIlroy, who had yet to tee off for the final round.

"Play well," said Mickelson, who then gave McIlroy's caddie a thumbs-up.

"You could tell that Rory's had this type of talent in him for some time now," Mickelson said, "and to see him putting it together is pretty neat to see."

***

At the club in Holywood, Northern Ireland, where McIlroy learned to play golf, they celebrated from the first birdie Sunday.

Many pints were sunk and songs sung, including an impromptu "Rory, Rory Hallelujah." Members of the Holywood Golf Club were glued to the television, and a man even kissed the large screen in the clubhouse's main bar after McIlroy won the U.S. Open by eight shots.

"We're massively proud," club member Tommy Trimble said. "It was incredible."

The club overlooking Belfast Lough bent its rules to let McIlroy in as a member at age 7, because he showed such promise. McIlroy's father started taking him to the club even before he could walk.

"This is huge," said John Stevenson, the recently retired principal of Sullivan Upper School in Holywood where McIlroy was a star pupil. "Rory is the hero."

***

The top amateur at the U.S. Open was Patrick Cantlay, who shot a 72 Sunday to finish tied for 21st at even par -- while learning just how taxing a major championship can be.

"I'm really tired," he said. "I felt it on the back nine. But you know, it's such a great experience to be here, and it's been an amazing week. I'm really excited, and adrenaline kind of kept me in it."

Cantlay, 19, just completed his freshman year at UCLA, where he plans to stay until he earns his degree. He won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation's top college golfer earlier this month.

"I can work on everything," he said. "My attitude can improve. I get down on myself."

Two other amateurs made the cut. Russell Henley shot a 75 Sunday to finish at 4 over. Brad Benjamin carded back-to-back 80s over the weekend and ended up at 21 over.

Cantlay and Henley are entered to play in the Porter Cup tournament next month at Niagara Falls Country Club.

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