Justin Rose on the scent of another Major after moving into contention in US PGA
US Open winner resurrects his round with a splendid back nine
Justin Rose during the second round of the 95th PGA Championship in Rochester, New York, yesterday. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Greed isn’t always such a bad thing. Justin Rose, who served his time and must have wondered when in the depths of despair if his dreams would ever come true, has the US Open trophy on his mantelpiece. It provides proof, whenever he needs to look, of his status in the game: a Major champion.
When he won that breakthrough Major at Merion in June, Rose found his destiny. Now, though, he wants more. He wants to become a multiple Major champion. And where better a place to start than in this US PGA championship at Oak Hill, where Rose – who shot a quite splendid back nine of 29 in producing a second round 66 for 134, six-under – moved stealthily into contention.
On only two occasions this season has Rose missed the cut: once, in the Players championship; the other, more hurtful, in the British Open at Muirfield. The circumstances of arriving in Scotland so soon after his US Open triumph and all the demands and expectations placed on him in a quest to add the Claret Jug probably mitigated against him on that occasion. Here, he has been far more relaxed. Yet, just as hungry. And put a new driver, the TaylorMade SLDR, in his bag.
Rose’s opening nine, having started on the 10th, offered no indication of what was to unfold. He turned in one-over 36, but, as he walked to the first tee, the rain which had been falling since he teed off stop. Rose got out a fresh glove, took his rain pants off and set about resurrecting his championship ambitions. “Obviously, I started my day bogey-bogey and really had a sense of, ‘wow, this is just going to be a struggle, we are going to have to really hang tough’,” he recalled.
On reaching the turn, he viewed it as a “rebuilding” phase of his tournament. He did a darn good job of it. He got hot. On Thursday, he’d gotten a birds’ eye view of Adam Scott’s ability to conquer the course. Yesterday, it was his turn. “A lot of numbers just fit the yardage perfectly and I had the right club,” he claimed. Yet, time and time again, he delivered the goods: a hat-trick of birdies from the first; another on the fifth, and then back-to-back birdies on the eighth and ninth to complete his round.
Of his capacity to increasingly deliver on the big stage, Rose admitted: “I feel like my game suits the tougher golf courses. I’ve worked hard on my game and I’ve worked hard at my skill set, and I feel like ball striking wise, the tougher courses sort of lends itself to that and I’ve always felt I’ve got a good short game; it can be streaky at times, but I’ve got all the shots. Now it’s just a matter of bringing them out a little bit more regularly.”
“There’s great players like myself or as good as myself, as I should say, who haven’t been able to win a Major . . . I feel grateful to have the monkey off my back and focus forward and look at each of them coming up as opportunities.”