“His winning speech matched the quality his golf and his media interview prompted many toughened old hacks to say it was the most impressive and emotive for many a year. Justin Rose has come a long way from these early, dark days.”
– Ewan Murray
Calling Justin Rose’s win at the 2013 US Open a major victory is an understatement. Yes, it was his first major. Yes, he was the first Englishman to win the US Open in 43 years. But the win, for the 32-year old was the highlight of one of the most up-n-down careers in recent golf history.
Let’s start at the beginning… Justin ‘Rose’ to fame at the 1998 Open Championship, almost exactly 15 years ago. As a baby-faced 17-year old amateur, Justin shot a second round 66 to tie Nick Price and Tiger Woods in second place. In testing conditions over the weekend, he held his nerve as well as his position on the leaderboard, holing one of golf’s most memorable shots to finish in a tie for 4th.
The next day Justin turned pro.
His pro career carried little momentum from The Open. He missed his first cut, then his second, then his third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh… by the time Justin Rose had played 21 pro events, he had yet to make a cut and thus yet to make a single penny (other than endorsements).
It is thought that life as a pro golfer can cost upwards of $2,000 a week in terms of travel, expenses, accommodation etc. After 21 early trips home, Justin must have been considering a new career. Or at least a weekend job!
Fast forward 14 years and that “overrated” player is now World #3, a major champion and on a run of form that would rival any golfer in the world.
Consider this: In Justin’s first 21 events as a pro he earned $0, missing all 21 cuts. However, in his last 21 events, he has finished in the top twenty-five 18 times and has amassed over $7,000,000 including a US open title.
So why the ‘major’ turnaround?
Is it a progressive pattern of success building on performances in PGA Tour events?
Is it a benefit of confidence from strong showings in majors and Ryder Cups?
Is it a stronger mental game built on experience of playing professional golf for 15 years?
Is it perhaps the decision he made to move his family and his profession to the US in 2004?
My opinion: It’s Sean Foley.
Coach of Justin, as well as Tiger Woods and Hunter Mahan, Foley has worked on making Justin Rose’s swing one of the most efficient and effective swings in golf. And it looks like its working.
Here’s a look at how his game has improved since starting work with Sean Foley in 2009:
So there you have it. Four years into the Foley-experiment and Justin appears to be peaking in terms of performance, ranking inside the top-3 in ball striking (Total Driving + Greens in Regulation), total driving (accuracy + distance) and scoring average.
Few people can claim a statistical season quite like the one Justin Rose is having. Whilst 20 players finished inside the top-50 in all three statistical categories in 2012, only one player finished inside the top-10 for each: Jason Dufner.
In fact, no individual statisical PGA Tour season over the last 12 years can better Justin’s 2013 season thus far. Only Chip Beck in 1988, Bruce Lietzke in 1991, David Duval in 1998 and Tiger’s famed season in 2000 can statistically better Rose’s current form.
Here’s the list of players to rank inside the top-5 in scoring, driving and ball striking since the PGA Tour started keeping statistics in 1980:
NOTE: This list of golfers currently have a combined 50 major titles in their trophy cases.
Often considered the greatest year in recent PGA Tour history. Tiger dominated the Tour in 2000, winning 9 of 20 events he played ranking 1st in scoring average, 1st in total driving and 1st in ball striking.
From the start of Tiger’s remarkable 2000 season, he won 6 of the next 10 major championships. Will Justin be able to build on the success of US Open title to win more majors?
I, for one, say yes.
Justin (20/1) is currently second favourite to win next week’s Open Championship behind Tiger (9/1).