Justin Rose reaches golf’s promised land following a long and arduous journey
Even 21 missed cuts in a row as a novice professional failed to deter the Englishman
Justin Rose of England looks to the heavens in acknowledgement of his deceased father after putting on the 18th hole to win the 113th US Open at Merion Golf Club. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
The journey has been a long one, full of twists and turns, and oft times bumpy. On Sunday, finally, Justin Rose reached his promised land.
“This is just like a journey, just such a satisfying feeling. And it goes back 20, 30 years for me of dreaming, of hoping, of practising, of calloused hands,” he said, all the while glancing towards the winged, female figure atop the majestic silver US Open Trophy with the names of all the game’s greats.
As the 113th champion of the US Open, Rose – who first took a plastic golf club into his hands as an 11-month-old toddler, his father Ken then the influence and, even in death, continuing to provide the inspiration – joined a select, elite club.
The club of Hogan and Jones, Nicklaus and Palmer, Stewart and Woods. He had arrived, and nobody could, or would, begrudge him his elevated status of a Major champion.
In using an old quip of Lee Trevino’s, Rose, his eyes dancing, remarked of how he had been infatuated with the old course from the moment he first set eyes on it. “I fell in love with a girl named Merion, just didn’t know her last name,” said Rose, who made a three-day reconnaissance trip to the famed course the week before the championship.
Yet, it was his deeds through the four rounds that brought him a breakthrough Major title, finishing two shots clear of Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.
Sunday’s story was of heartbreak for Mickelson, fulfilling the role of fall guy yet again in finisher runner-up for a record sixth time, but of unconfined joy for Rose. He deserved it, the figures confirm it: he ranked second in fairways hit, seventh in greens-in-regulation, 16th in putting and first in birdies.
He shot fewer strokes – 281 of them – than any other player. “I established a game plan that really held true for me,” he said, adding: “I’m just glad I was kind of the last man standing.”
At 32 years of age, Rose – who first burst onto the international scene as a teenager in the 1998 British Open at Royal Birkdale, where he won low amateur medallist honours in finishing fourth – has served his time. Just like Adam Scott, who captured the Masters title in April. For Rose, though, there was a start to his professional career that was like a tragic drama.
He missed the cut in the first 21 tournaments he played in as a tour professional and, if others doubted him, he never gave up on his own ability.