They say fame is fleeting and while that is certainly true, it can be even more fleeting when it is derived from the title of “world’s hottest golfer,” which can only be separated by a comma from a player for just so long until he yields the designation to a peer who becomes, well, hotter.
Take the case of Martin Kaymer. All he’s done in the past two months is win the Players Championship and the U.S. Open to claim that title, then follow with a missed cut and 12th-place finish to ostensibly relinquish it.
Not that it matters, because like the nature of fame, there are no riches nor accolades which are abdicated when a player is removed from this theoretical throne.
Through very little fault of his own, Kaymer has been dislodged from this admittedly nebulous distinction thanks to the recent form of Justin Rose, who has won in each of his last two starts. As any embracer of debate will contend, when bequeathing such a title upon a single player, it doesn’t get any hotter than winning. As Tiger Woods is famously fond of saying, winning takes care of everything.
Except when it doesn’t, of course.
In the case of Rose, winning last year’s U.S. Open took care of the lone blind spot remaining on his career resume, instantly lending his name the major champion prefix. His victory two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National and on Sunday at the Scottish Open, took care of any lingering consternation over a game that hadn’t produced a win since that U.S. Open triumph, one that underwent an involuntary respite earlier this year due to a shoulder injury.
Winning these events, though, hasn’t taken care of a puzzlingly porous Open Championship record. Not yet, anyway.
What winning has done is given Rose the fleeting title of “world’s hottest golfer” entering this week’s festivities at Royal Liverpool – and a whole heap of confidence, too.
A brazen final-round, 6-under 65 at Royal Aberdeen kept his fellow contenders at arm’s length, as Rose won for the first time in his career in back-to-back starts.
Now he will attempt to keep that mojo working at a tournament that hasn’t often worked in his favor.
Rose first burst into mainstream consciousness with a fourth-place finish as a 17-year-old amateur during the 1998 edition of The Open, but has struggled to regain that form ever since. In fact, it remains his lone top-10 finish at a tournament which means so much to him.
All of which was instantly on his mind the moment he holed his final putt on Sunday.
“Obviously, I’ve won two in a row now, so I’ve put the pressure on myself,” he said. “I’ve got no one else to blame but myself. It’s uncharted territory for me. I’ve never won two in a row, so may as well keep the run going.”
Rose knows it’s possible. Just one year ago, Phil Mickelson parlayed a Scottish Open victory into an Open triumph one week later.
That was his goal at the beginning of the week, and now he’s halfway there.
“I haven’t had much luck in The Open, so obviously I thought I’d try and do a Phil this year and put it on my schedule,” he explained. “So far, so good. I’m 1-for-2.”
With the second consecutive win, Rose claimed the somewhat ambiguous title of “world’s hottest golfer.” His eyes are on another title at Hoylake, though. One which will never be confused as fleeting.