Hard work fueling Rose's Hall of Fame dream

By Rex HoggardNovember 6, 2017, 2:57 pm

ANTALYA, Turkey – Two weeks ago, Justin Rose would have rated his season a B-minus – a solid year, couple of top-10 finishes, lofty spot at East Lake for the PGA Tour finale – but not complete

“No win,” he shrugged.

That all changed, first last week at the WGC-HSBC Champions when he rallied to beat world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, then on Sunday where he birdied three of his last four holes to win the Turkish Airlines Open.

“Now I'm probably at an A-minus with one putt at Augusta away from being an A-plus,” he smiled.

That “one putt,” of course, was his birdie attempt on the 72nd hole to beat Sergio Garcia that wandered wide and set up a playoff the Spaniard would win. That’s how thin the margins can be between a good year and a great one.

By contrast, the 37-year-old’s career defies that kind of instant analysis.

Rose’s victory in Turkey, which was sealed with a 10-footer for birdie at the last hole, was the first time he’d won back-to-back starts since 2014, when he followed his victory at the Quicken Loans National with a triumph at the Scottish Open.

It was also his 18th worldwide victory, and prompted the kind of question that normally requires more retrospective than most professionals are willing to allow at this stage of their careers.

It was a historical query cutting to Rose’s place in the game, and prompted a telling response after a noticeably pregnant pause.

“Someone said to me: If you could do it all over again, if you could wipe the slate clean right now and do it all over again, would you?” Rose allowed. “It's a good question.”


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It was an even better answer.

Late Saturday following a third-round 64 at Regnum Golf & Spa Resort, Rose was asked about Bradley Neil, a Scottish professional who’d just salvaged his season with a solid finish on the European Challenge Tour to regain his playing privileges. Rose has become something of a mentor to Neil, who missed 11 of his first 16 cuts after turning pro in 2016.

“Making cuts to start a career is easy,” smiled Rose, who famously began his pro career by missing the cut in his first 21 tournament starts.

From that humbling start has emerged one of the game’s most consistent players. In the last 10 years on the PGA Tour, Rose has failed to play the weekend just 40 times. He’s won a major (2013 U.S. Open) and a gold medal (2016 Olympics) and has played on three winning European Ryder Cup teams. He’s transformed himself, with an assist from swing coach Sean Foley, into one of the game’s most consistent ball-strikers and has been a perennial top-10 player in the world golf rankings.

In many respects, Rose is a self-made man. Sure, his “hello, world” moment at the 1998 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale where he tied for fourth place as a 17-year-old amateur suggested almost limitless potential, but make no mistake, he’s come by his success honestly.

Hard work and the unrelenting sensibilities of a perfectionist have hoisted Rose into a uniquely exclusive class. But would he do it all over again if offered the ultimate mulligan?

“I'm not sure I would,” he said. “It's been 20 years of hard graft, hard work and I've achieved a lot. I've achieved a major championship. I've won Olympic gold. I've won a lot of other tournaments. I've had some great moments. To kind of try to do all of that again from a fresh, clean slate, that would be a daunting task.”

Some would say the road ahead appears equally as daunting. In the short term, Rose is within four rounds of winning the European Tour’s Race to Dubai following his back-to-back victories; and another major championship is always the goal, particularly a Masters’ jacket following April’s near-miss.

But there’s an even loftier finish line for Rose, the ultimate benchmark when grading careers that transcend money lists and the kind of week-in and week-out hyperbole that can often blur the bigger picture.

“I've always said I'd like to be a Hall of Fame player, and I guess who makes that determination, I don't know, but that's kind of what I'm working towards,” Rose said. “So is that two major championships and 20 wins? I don't know what it is. Olympic gold will probably be kind of a nice bargaining chip when it comes to that.”

Under the current World Golf Hall of Fame selection process those kinds of questions go largely unanswered. Consider that Davis Love III, who was inducted into the Hall last month, passed the esoteric test with 21 Tour victories and a major (PGA Championship); while Fred Couples was given his Hall pass with 15 titles and the ’92 Masters on his resume.

Whether or not Rose has checked all the required boxes to join that club at this point is a hypothetical waste of time. At least it is to Rose, who knows he still has work to do to assure himself a Hall of Fame locker. But then hard work is what he does best.

“There's a lot more I believe I can achieve,” he said. “My mind is about just trying to get in the conversation, I suppose, and keep winning.”

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."