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Justin Rose, the 2013 US Open Champion: a testament to patience and perseverance.

By: Simon Reynolds

Lifts the trophy to the skies, in memory of his late father Ken.

Lifts the trophy to the skies, in memory of his late father Ken.

The game of golf is full of magical stories, and some victories will me remembered more then others. The final round of the 113th US Open was played on father’s day and as Justin Rose lifted aloft the US Open trophy and looked into the sky in memory of his late father Ken, who passed in 2002, when Rose was just 21 years of age. Golf fans worldwide, especially in Europe, will be more then happy for Justin Rose, who has risen to number 3 in the world rankings after this most recent victory, after his fair share of ups and downs in his golfing career. It was his father Ken, who placed a putter into young Justin’s hands at the age of one, and was the mastermind behind his impressive rise as a junior, most notably for his 4th place finish at the 1998 Open Championship at Birkdale, as a skinny teenager, holing out from 50 yards for birdie, from the rough on the 72nd fairway, hands aloft in his baggy red jumper.  Justin and his father would spend many hours on the driving range after school, hitting balls and spending quality time together. After the post open hype of his 1998 Open Championship performance, Rose quickly turned pro, but 21 missed cuts later after going pro, some would say he made the decision too soon. In his 22nd event, Rose finally cashed his first pay cheque; nonetheless he was to lose his playing card that year.

17 years of age, Rose heroics at the 1998 British Open at Royal Birkdale.

17 years of age, Rose heroics at the 1998 British Open at Royal Birkdale.

Justin Rose is part of a golden generation of highly talented English golfers, which include the likes of: Luke Donald, Paul Casey and Lee Westwood. All of who have had their fair share of near misses in big major events and Luke Donald has spend some time sitting on top of the world rankings. Some would say Luke Donald and Lee Westwood would be the likelier of the group to win a coveted major trophy but Rose has been very impressive in recent years since his first win stateside in 2010 at the Memorial, quickly following one win with another at the AT&T a month later. The US Open was his fifth win on the PGA, all of which have been high profile tournaments against highly competitive golf fields. His most recent success pays tribute to the art of patience and perseverance, Rose earned enough money to play on the PGA tour as a non -member in 2004, and in 2005 he officially quit the European tour to concentrate playing full time in the US.  It took 6 years of near misses and steady improvement before Rose finally secured his first PGA victory at the 2010 memorial.

Since working with coach Sean Foley, his golf swing is often referred to the perfect swing by golf coaches worldwide, and a good starting point for golfers looking to learn the basics of a sound and consistent technique. His playing statistics are equally impressive, and on the short, yet tight and tricky Merion Golf Course, its not surprising that many had tipped Justin Rose to contend for the title before the start. In the 2012 PGA Stats, Rose lead the tour in Greens in Regulation, and this year in 2013: Rose leads the tour in total driving.  As they say in sports, stats do not lie; Rose leads the PGA tour stats in Greens in Regulation from Par 3’s of +200 yards, and this years 2013 US Open course had three +/- 200 par 3’s and long approach shots to Par 4’s. It is testament to Justin’s finely tuned golf swing, that he played so consistently over the four rounds at Merion with rounds of: 71-69-71-70 for a winning score at +1 for the championship.

 

Justin Rose with coach Sean Foley at the 2013 US Open.

Justin Rose with coach Sean Foley at the 2013 US Open.

Rose started working with sports psychologist Gio Valiante in 2009, a year before the Memorial tournament and his maiden PGA victory in 2010. Coach Sean Foley prompted the meeting, as he was perplexed by Justin’s predicament. It was for all to see that Rose possessed abundant natural talent and a textbook golf swing. His warm up sessions on the driving range were a work of art, shot after shot of perfect golf shots, but the good form on the practice range would not be produced during tournament play, something wasn’t quite right. In the eyes of his coach, months before the 2010 Players Championship, Justin’s mechanics and technique were superb. On the range before the opening round, shot after shot, his wedges, long irons and driver, were excellent.  Yet despite all the perfect practice sessions, Justin opened with rounds of 72 and 72, resulting in a missed cut. After a series of breakfast meetings between Gio Valiante and Justin Rose, the psychologist begun to question: What drove Rose every day as a golfer? What made him get up in the morning?

But it was the reaction to one particular question that caused concern: Why he played golf? He didn’t have a clear answer.  Perhaps, the fact that Justin had been playing golf from such a young age, golf had simply become what he did, he had never stopped and paused to consider, why he played the game. This may or may not have been one of the key moments in Justin’s playing career, a simple question, and a simple consideration of why he woke up every morning to practice and play golf. He had been playing golf for so long that perhaps he had lost his clarity of why he was playing golf, what Mr Valiante succeeded in suggesting to him was simply a change and alteration in his motivation. Perhaps golf had become a chore for him, Mr Valiante was determined to help Justin rediscover the child-like joy of simply playing the game, enjoying the rounds, the type of enjoyment on the golf course that makes you mentally free, and the challenge and curiosity to grow and evolve as a player.

Rose's final approach on the 72nd hole at the 2013 US Open at Merion Golf Club.

Rose’s final approach on the 72nd hole at the 2013 US Open at Merion Golf Club.

A change in mind set and thinking, begun to show improved results during tournaments for Justin, a commitment to the mastery within the game of golf. A turning point in his playing career, he had learnt to react constructively to poor performances. To simply learn from the experience like the Players, not get disappointed, and instead focus on what could be learnt from the experience and used to develop in the long-term development of his game.  A quote from Justin, before the Memorial, explained why he was so composed:

“ I’ve been thinking. The reality is, I just want to know how good I can become at this game. I want an answer to that question: How good can I become? The question isn’t going to be answered in one week, or even two. So I am not going to get flustered over one week. It’s a long term process.”

Rose had begun a new journey in his golfing career, with a fresh mind-set and curiosity of what he could achieve in the future. To put into context the Memorial victory, it was his first victory on the PGA Tour since playing stateside since 2004. Since the Memorial Rose has won several other high profile tournaments alongside the recent triumph at the 113th US Open. The singles victory over Phil Mickleson in the 2012 at the Ryder Cup was mesmerizing, with his 50ft birdie putt on the 17th green to draw level, and his birdie on the 18th to seal the match. European golf fans recognise this singles win as one of the key moments in Europe’s overall victory against the United States. This was another example of the excellence that Rose has reached at the highest levels of golf, long may this continue.

Video Highlights:

Justin Rose 50ft Birdie Putt at the 2012 Ryder Cup:

 

A skinny 17 year old Rose, holing out for birdie, from 50 yards, from the rough, in the final round of the 1998 British Open at Royal Birkdale.

About Simon Reynolds

Simon fell in love with the game of golf at an early age. Watching Happy Gilmore when he was 12, Simon was hooked, and to this day thanks Adam Sandler's genius in the film for his passion for the game. His golfing hero is more refined and mature these days, and he continues his spiritual quest to model his golf game on Ben Hogan's perfect golf swing.

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