Rose [royz] v.: to get up from a lying, sitting, or kneeling posture; assume an upright position; to get up after falling or being thrown down.
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – Webster’s has never been so on the mark. Not on a steamy Fourth of July when the path laid out before Justin Rose was diabolically simple.
Close out his second tournament in just over a month and be dubbed the hottest thing since vuvuzelas. Blow the save and start collecting pension points toward Jean Van de Velde status.
But then the easily likeable Englishman has dealt with those types of results-oriented thoughts before. A lifetime, really, and Aronimink was poised as the ultimate career crossroads.
Seven days removed from his Sunday collapse at the Travelers Championship, a decade clear of the type of occupational initiation that sends people looking for a new line of work, Rose held on to win the AT&T National, and a long-awaited spot among the game’s elite players.
In Philly speak, this was Apollo Creed going hard to the mat and Rocky hoisting an oversized check instead of Adrian.
The ultimate reclamation project, pulled from the depths of a dismal indoctrination to the game that featured 21 consecutive missed cuts that spanned three hopeless years (1997-99) in Europe.
In a game that requires more dusting off than a renaissance fair, Rose was the ultimate survivor, having gone 161 Tour starts before breaking the seal last month at the Memorial. At Aronimink the picture of competitive perseverance was quick to realize how far he has traveled.
“It's been a long, hard road, really. But I think I have learned more in the tough times,” said Rose, who closed with 70 for a 10-under 270 total and a one-stroke victory over fast-closing Ryan Moore.
“It does seem like a lifetime ago now, I've got to tell you. I feel like I've had two or three careers. I feel like I'm two or three different people, I really do. You know, the young kid, and then the journeyman, and then the working my way back to being the player I wanted to be in the first place.”
AT&T National, along with last month’s Memorial victory, is redemption that Rose came by honestly. Always a superior ballsriker with a deft touch, the final pieces began falling into place 12 months ago just down the road at Congressional when he began working with swing coach Sean Foley.
“How about that for a one-year anniversary present,” Foley said.
The final piece of the puzzle occurred six months later when Rose, at the urging of Foley, began working with central Florida sports psychologist Gio Valiante.
“He would have a bad round and a bad score and wouldn’t react well. I told him last Sunday night, you’re going to be better at this time tomorrow than you are today,” Valiante said. “It’s a cause and effect game, the golf gods aren’t against you it’s a cause and effect.”
Those lessons were put to the test on Sunday. Four strokes clear to start the day, Rose missed a 6 footer for par at the first, the first putt from 5 to 6 feet he’d missed all week, and suddenly his lead was two.
Even when he eagled the par-5 ninth hole from 4 feet to go 5 up with nine to play, Rose knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It was a reality that made his Hartford meltdown that much more important.
Rose had gone 63 holes without a three-putt on the hardest greens this side of Magnolia Lane, but within 15 minutes he carded two three putts, at No. 10 from 35 feet and the 11th from 44 feet to slip back to within two shots of the field.
The rest of the afternoon, however, was a study in poise and execution. Rose hit a Mariano Rivera-esqe 9-of-9 greens in regulation to close out his week, was first in putts made distance and tied for 15 in fairways hit.
Following his round Rose called AT&T National his U.S. Open. With numbers like that he would have easily collected a major of the proper variety.
Not that Rose’s caddie Mark Mulcher was surprised by his man’s finish. Not after what happened late last Sunday shortly after Rose had signed for his closing 75 and tied for ninth.
“I was driving to New York and he called me and said, ‘Mulch, I’m on the ninth green (at TPC River Highlands) and I’ve got things sorted out,’” Rose’s caddie Mark Mulcher said. “And that was two hours afterward.”
Two hours after his round on Sunday at Aronimink Tiger Woods was bound for Ireland to play in this week’s J.P. McManus Pro-Am, but he’d found no secret to his putting or iron woes.
Woods, who tied for 46th, spent the better part of the week telling the assembled scribes he is close, or maybe he was telling himself. Either way, St. Andrews no longer has the look of a foregone conclusion despite the world No. 1’s 2-for-2 record on the Old Course.
“I hit driver as many times as I possibly could because it felt so good. I just wanted to keep hitting it,” said Woods, who hasn’t been winless this deep into a PGA Tour season since 2002. “That hasn't been the case lately. So it was nice to get back dialed in and obviously I need to get my putter working a little bit better and get rolling.”
Fittingly, Moore played his final round like a man with a plane to catch, birdying three of his last six holes, including a 13 footer at the 17th hole to pull within one shot. Although he came up a stroke shy, Moore’s 12 footer at the 18th to save par earned him his second trip to the British Open.
As the top finisher not otherwise exempt, Moore earned his trip to St. Andrews, along with Bubba Watson and Rose via a special mini-money list that began at The Players Championship and ran through this week.
St. Andrews is a fitting reward for Rose, who dubbed the ancient links his “Bogey Open” after having not qualified for the championship when it was played on the Old Course in 2000 and again in 2005.
Not that it was on his mind coming down the stretch. Not after everything he’s gone through.
As he approached the 17th tee clinging to a one-stroke advantage Rose ducked into a portable bathroom, some in the crowd guessing to use the facility for its alternative purpose. But it was the wrong Sunday for that. A nervy two-putt at the 17th was followed by a textbook finish, fairway, green, trophy presentation.
“A lot of questions got asked about him last week. They were all answered today,” Mulcher said.
Some questions, it seems, take longer to answer than others.