Justin Rose is blossoming at just the right time
Justin Rose is undoubtedly enjoying the best five-week spell of his career, but the question many are asking is: what took him so long?
It was 12 years ago now at Royal Birkdale in 1998 that a 17-year-old Rose sent the British faithful into a frenzy when he finished in fourth place. It seemed the world was his oyster; all he had to do was grab hold.
Not so fast. Rose, who was an amateur at the Open that year, went pro shortly after and promptly missed his first 21 cuts. Yes, 21. This overlapped from 1998 to 1999 and the following year was not much better for the young Englishman, as he missed 13 of his first 18 cuts.
Up-and-down golf throughout the decade with a few wins mixed in, but for the most part it was a lot of heartbreak.
Rose has devoted almost all of his golf to the PGA tour over the last seven years, but even playing most of his events in America he had failed to win a PGA event. That is, until just over five weeks ago.
Last month, the Memorial Tournament witnessed Rose’s re-emergence. A victory at Jack Nicklaus’ tournament, his first ever on the PGA tour, gave him not only the long-awaited triumph but, as we would find out, some newly-found confidence as well.
Three weeks later he seemed poised to win for the second time in June. He took a three-shot lead into the final round of the Travelers Championship only to fumble to a 75 and a ninth-place finish.
Not to let it deter him -as it would have the old Justin Rose -a week later he again stormed out to a big lead after the third round, this time a five shot cushion at the AT&T National. Again, though, a poor Sunday start, and the lead was gone.
But Rose found some resolve this time. Seven consecutive pars to finish the Sunday round and he hung on for a one-shot win.
Rose has suddenly jumped to second place in the Fed Ex Cup standings, trailing only Ernie Els. He is third on the PGA money list for the year and has finished in the top ten five times already. It is fairly remarkable for somebody who failed to qualify for the year’s first two majors.
Rose has also suddenly placed himself in Colin Montgomerie’s sites for a Ryder Cup birth. He has moved into eighth place in Ryder Cup points, ahead of the likes of US Open winner Graeme McDowell and Rhys Davies.
Following his win at the AT&T Rose was asked if he thought he was playing the best golf in the world right now.
“I think it is a fact,” he said, not shying away from the possibility. “I don’t look at it any other way. I’m playing great.”
Although he missed the year’s first two majors, he will be at the third, the British Open at St Andrews later this month.
And although Tiger Woods will no doubt be the favorite to win again on the hallowed grounds, one should not overlook the almost 30-year-old Rose.
The way he is playing, he has a chance to woo the Open crowds again, 12 years later.