Steady Justin Rose gives himself a chance at U.S. Open

Warren Little/Getty Images

Steady Justin Rose gives himself a chance at U.S. Open

Professional

Steady Justin Rose gives himself a chance at U.S. Open

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — On a day when some of the biggest names in golf took a beating and left the 18th green licking their wounds, Justin Rose, winner of the 2013 U.S. Open, exhaled deeply and wore a look of relief as he opened the door of the scorer’s tent.

His opening round was not perfect, he could have made a few more putts, and his chipping was a little shaky at times. Plus hayfever was taking its toll on his eyes and nose. But after signing for a 71, Rose knew he had achieved his goal.

“I’m aware of the big picture of this tournament, and I think I knew what today was all about,” he said. “It was about hanging in there. If I’d a shot 72 or 73, it would be a good day’s work as well. Today is about eliminating a bad round, and I think it’s turned into a really positive start.”

The strategy for Rose was simple: Avoid big numbers and string together pars. On a day when pars felt like birdies, he mostly kept the ball out of the knee-deep fescue and in the fairways, and he eschewed three-putting.

“The fact that I hit 13 out of 14 fairways made the course playable,” he said. “At least I had looks at birdies with some decent irons.”

Rose made his first birdie of the day on the par-5 fifth hole after hitting a 324-yard drive and a 240-yard approach shot before jarring a 33-foot putt. He also made birdie on the par-4 10th after his 75-yard approach shot skidded to a stop just 8 feet from the hole.

For the day, Rose hit 12 of 18 green in regulation, got up-and-down from the sand three times out of four and never three-putted.

“There was no let-up out there today, and marginal golf shots were getting punished,” he said. “You have to execute. There’s no faking it around that golf course.”

After turning pro at 17 following a tie for fourth at the 1997 British Open, Rose missed the cut in the 21 events he played. But through countless hours on the range fine-tuning his swing, and recently transforming into a solid putter, he is now one of the prototypical U.S. Open players.

“I enjoy the battle. I enjoy the fight. I enjoy the grind, really,” Rose said before leaving Shinnecock and heading back to his rented house. “I do enjoy it, especially when you’re on the right side of the fight.”

Latest

More Golfweek
Home