Today we look at Justin Rose, a major winner in 2013 and a player that is playing at an exceptionally high level, year-on-year.
A great ambassador for golf, Rose is living proof that there is no substitute for hard work and perseverance and if there is enough talent there, you can make the very best of it and reach incredible heights.
Quite frankly, Rose should already have a Green Jacket in his locker. The man has been consistency personified around Augusta and in two of the last three seasons has had to watch on, as the envious bridesmaid.
In 2015, Spieth was not going to be denied, he played extremely well, had some outrageous luck at times and rode it all the way to his first major championship. Spieth got to 18-under-par and beat both Rose and Phil Mickelson emphatically in the end, by four strokes. This was the biggest winning margin since Tiger Woods’ 12-shot victory in 1997, in an event that is normally a tight affair.
Last year though, Rose was not well beaten, in fact he had every chance to win. He went into the final round tied for the lead with Ryder Cup teammate and good friend, Sergio Garcia. Garcia took the early advantage, after he birdied two of his first three holes, but early on the back-9, Rose was in control. It took a miracle from Garcia on the 13th to save par which effectively keep him in the hunt, and gave him a huge boost in confidence. No wonder he has named his first-born child, Azalea (name of the 13th hole).
After another trade of the lead, Garcia and Rose eventually went down 18 tied, as they were at the start of the day. Both players missed birdie putts on the final hole, from 5 and 7 feet respectively and it was back down 18 they went.
Rose pulled his drive into the trees and was forced to chip out, whilst Sergio found the fairway. Garcia hit his approach to 12 feet but Rose couldn’t get inside him with his third and was left with a 14fter for par – a must-make. It wasn’t to be though and Garcia had two putts for the victory, but needed just one.
With three top-5’s, two more top-10’s and no missed cuts in twelve starts, it is fair to say to say Rose loves Augusta, and is more than due a victory here.
Why he can win the 2018 Masters
Some may doubt Rose can bounce back from two 2nd’s here, instead thinking he will struggle to overcome disappointment, but there’s every reason to believe he does just that this year.
Rose has arguably the best mentality in golf, constantly bouncing back from low moments, no more so than when missing 21 straight cuts to start his career as a pro. When you look back at that, being disappointed with a 2nd place finish at the Masters is a drop in the ocean.
Had it gone a different way at Merion in 2013 and he was still in search for his first major, then maybe these two 2nd place finishes in the last three years here would be a lot more difficult to deal with, but I suspect they now just make him hungrier, not desperate for another major title.
He did of course run a little empty in his next few starts, looking flat when T65 at the Players and when missing the cut at the U.S. Open, but he did finish T12 at Wentworth and T4 in Ireland, either side of the year’s second major. T54 and T63 finishes at the Open Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone respectively was not ideal preperation for the PGA Championship, where he again missed the cut.
Many thought he was done for the year, needed time off to reboot and come back stronger, but just two weeks after the missed cut at the PGA, Rose was back in form. He started his FedEx Cup play-offs with a T10 at The Northern Trust, before finishing T10 again a week later at the Dell Technologies Championship. T2 and T10 finishes at the BMW Championship and Tour Championship followed, and Rose was well and truly back to somewhere near his best. He finished the year 9th in the FedEx Cup, after a mid-season slump suggested he may well be left behind by others.
On his next start, Rose won the WGC HSBC Champions event in China and then the Turkish Airlines Open a week later and he has not looked back since. One more win (Indonesian Masters) and six more top-10’s in his last 9 starts suggest his form is still right at its peak, and he looks very well prepared to make another run at a Green Jacket.
Skipping the Match Play as he did last year, Rose will be looking for a good tune-up week in Houston, after top-5 finishes in both Tampa and Bay Hill on his last two starts.
There is no denying that Rose deserves a win at the Masters and given the way he is playing, there is every chance he is successful this time.