Timely win at Congressional a huge boost for Justin Rose

Holder Graeme McDowell to head a ten-strong Irish contingent in Paris for the French Open this week

Nothing tastes as good as a win, and nothing makes you greedier for more than the taste of success. Justin Rose, with a sense of near-perfect timing, coming as it did a fortnight after he gave back the US Open trophy and two weeks ahead of the British Open, returned to the winner's enclosure with a play-off win in the National tournament at Congressional and immediately set his sights on the upcoming Major at Hoylake.

“It’s a big boost,” said Rose of his fifth win on the PGA Tour, adding: “It has not been lost on me that I have not won for a year, over a year. The clock passed a year at the US Open (in Pinehurst), so it was nice to get on the right side of that very quickly . . . . it’s a huge boost confidence-wise (going to Hoylake), because I’ve been semi in contention this year without winning. It’s a really nice time of year to have a victory and allows me to focus on exciting challenges now ahead.”

Rose, who moved up to eighth in the latest world rankings off the back of a play-off win over Shawn Stefani, was forced to miss out on the British Open when it was last played at Hoylake in 2006. On that occasion, Tiger Woods gave a masterclass on the way to successfully defending the title.

Poor results

That was a year when Rose was struggling with his game, his confidence shaken by a string of poor results. It seems like an age ago now.


“I was having a bit of a rough spell around 2005, 2006, missing Majors . . . . that was sort of a remotivating period in my life when I was out on the sidelines missing these Majors. I just remember it being burnt out, really warm, people eating ice cream and Tiger winning. That’s about my memory.”

In actual fact, Rose hasn’t ever played Hoylake but he intends to take in a number of practice rounds there before heading on to next week’s Scottish Open which takes place at Royal Aberdeen. That will serve as the perfect preparatory tournament on links terrain ahead of his quest to add the Claret Jug to his trophy cabinet. Rory McIlroy also intends to resume tournament play at the Scottish Open.

One swing

Rose’s latest win came in a playoff with Stefani that saw his opponent run up a double-bogey and was the Englishman’s first play-off on the US Tour.

“You never underestimate anybody, because a playoff can be won and lost within one swing, and fortunately I was on the right side of that . . . . . I didn’t really know what to expect.

“I asked my caddie did he have any advice, and he said, ‘You’ve just got to play the hole, play the course. You can’t really get too much into playing the man’. So my only other experience with a playoff was I think in 2007 at Wentworth, and I played the hole and the other guy (Anders Hansen) made birdie and I was like, ‘oh, it’s all over’. So that’s the thing with a playoff; it can be all over before you’ve even really got your head into it.”

Rose strengthened his position on the world points list in Europe’s Ryder Cup qualifying table as a result of his win in Congressional and Graeme McDowell returns to the French Open at the National in Paris aiming to kickstart his own bid to automatically make Paul McGinley’s team.

McDowell – the defending champion – heads a 10-strong Irish contingent in Paris where there are exemptions on offer to Hoylake for the three players not already qualified who finish in the top-10. McDowell is joined by Pádraig Harrington, Michael Hoey, Simon Thornton, Damien McGrane, Gareth Maybin, Peter Lawrie, Paul McGinley, Kevin Phelan and David Higgins. Shane Lowry had originally planned to play but added the BMW International Open to his schedule in Cologne where he secured his ticket into the British Open. Lowry will now resume tournament play at the Scottish Open.

There won’t be any Scottish Open for McDowell who, due to a hectic tournament schedule post-Hoylake and the impending birth of his fist child, will miss the tournament. “I don’t want to spend five or six weeks away from home because I have to go straight to Canada with RBC commitments, then Firestone (for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational), the (US) PGA,” said McDowell..

Des Smyth, Denis O'Sullivan and Philip Walton comprise the Irish challenge in the PGA Seniors Open in Switzerland.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times