ARDMORE, Pennsylvania: Justin Rose completed the long and, at times, painful journey from boy wonder to failed pro and then on to major winner at the US Open on Sunday.
The 32-year-old Englishman held his nerve down Merion Golf Club’s testing home stretch to win his first major title by two strokes from Phil Mickelson and Jason Day on a day of high drama.
He then spoke of the doubts and heartaches he had endured to get to this stage of his life when it all came together in spectacular fashion.
Rose first entered the spotlight when he finished in a tie for fourth as an amateur teen at the 1998 British Open at Royal Birkdale.
He turned professional immediately afterwards, but he endured what he called “a traumatic start” to his career, missing the cut in the first 21 tournaments he took part in.
His father and coach, Ken Rose, then died when Rose was just 21 and he was left alone to try and claw his way back up the ladder.
Slowly but surely, he succeeded, winning the 2007 European Order of Merit title and notching up regular wins on the US PGA Tour.
But it was a win in one of the four majors that was the priority for him and after a few near misses, notably at last year’s PGA Championship when he tied for third, he finally came good at Merion.
“When I was missing 21 cuts in a row, I was just trying to not fade away, really,” he said.
“I just didn’t want to be known as a one hit wonder—flash in the pan.
“I believed in myself inherently. Deep down I always knew that I had a talent to play the game.
“At times it feels 25 years since Birkdale and other times it feels like it was just yesterday. There’s a lot of water under the bridge.
“My learning curve has been steep from that point. Sort of announced myself on the golfing scene probably before I was ready to handle it. And golf can be a cruel game.
“Definitely I have had the ups and down, but I think that ultimately it has made me stronger and able to handle the situations like today.”
Influences there have been for Rose over the years, starting with his father, who Rose spoke emotionally about on what was Father’s Day, and Sean Foley, the coach he currently shares with Tiger Woods.
And he also had words of praise for Adam Scott, the Australian and close friend who won his first major title, also at the age of 32, at the Masters in April, nine months after blowing a winning position at the British Open.
“I consider him a contemporary of mine and a great friend of mine. He sent me a text message after I congratulated him. He said to me, ‘This is your time, this is our time, to win these tournaments.’
“At 32 we have been around quite a while. We paid our dues in some senses. The other thing that I really learned from Adam was that I wasn’t scared of the heartache of losing one. The way he handled himself at Lytham (in the British Open), I think, is something that he needs as much praise on as winning the Masters.”
Rose was also proud of becoming the first Englishman since Tony Jacklin 43 years ago to win the US Open and the first since Nick Faldo at the Masters 17 years ago to win a major.
He now hopes his win will open the door for the likes of close friends and compatriots Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Lee Westwood—none of whom have to date won a major.
“I really hope it does inspire them. And I think it was always going to be a matter of time before one of us broke through,” he said.
“It was just going to be who. And I always hoped it was going to be me to be the first, obviously.
“But I really hoped that it sort of has broken the spell and guys can continue to sort of match up some for themselves.”