04 Mar 2021

Justin Rose – Coming out swinging

After a turbulent couple of years, Justin Rose is dead-set on making 2021 a year to remember as he looks to put the disappointment of 2020 behind him. Rose turned 40 last summer and endured his first winless season since 2009, something he puts down to a number of factors which he’s determined to put right.

Despite not firing on all cylinders, he put in a decent showing on the Middle East swing with a runner-up finish in Saudi leaving him with something to build on, and he feels he’s trending in the right direction ahead of The Masters…


As Rose closed the book on 2020 he knew he had three weeks of world-class action to look forward to in the Middle East to kick-off 2021. The rust took some time to shake off as he didn’t break 70 in Abu Dhabi, but did make the cut to finish T57.

Then he played well to get in contention in Dubai only to be undone by a final round 77 to finish T35. He bounced back in style in Saudi Arabia, finishing runner-up to Dustin Johnson after rounds of 68-66-68-65, despite not possessing his ‘A’ game for large spells.

“I was in decent position going into the final round in Dubai – I was seventh but had a poor Sunday and that drops you being back into making it a terrible week,” reflected Rose after his Middle Eastern jaunt came to a close. “So it’s nice to feel like I’ve come out of the trip with a nice bit of positive momentum.

“I’ve been working on a lot of stuff but really staying patient. I haven’t been playing my best golf and it’s easy to get frustrated. I’ve kind of stayed with it, even through those three weeks in the Middle East, it felt like it was slow going, and good golf hasn’t been rewarded and I’ve made silly mistakes. Momentum hasn’t quite been on my side yet. But to play a bogey-free 65 on a Sunday is something to kind of take and fuel the upcoming run.”

Justin Rose basks in the glow after winning his first Major at the 2013 US Open.

Rose knows what it takes to win at the highest level, with a Major win coming at the 2013 US Open nestled among 10 PGA Tour wins and 11 on the European Tour. With five Ryder Cup outings under his belt he’s one of the most successful Englishmen to play the game in recent generations, and he isn’t worried about his current dip down in the world rankings.

“I pretty much spent a decade in or around the top ten in the world, and this year is a bit of a reboot because 2020 was a struggle,” said Rose, who dropped out of the top 30 late last year. “Confidence and momentum is an amazing thing in golf and I’ve got to earn that back. The golf course doesn’t know my world ranking, so I’ve got to go out every week, and I’m building, working hard on all the things that enable me to play well.

“All that matters to me is winning the big tournaments – and I know I can do that, whether I’m 30th or 50th in the world, I know I have that ability. So it’s a matter of finding form and the confidence that goes with it.”

“World Rankings only serve a purpose to get into tournaments, they don’t concern me. Winning Major Championships concern me, I still feel like that’s ahead of me and I have that opportunity.

“I still wake up every day and believe that my best is ahead of me. That motivates me. If I felt I was on that slippery slope out, then it’s hard to put one foot in front of the other. I’m not concerned about playing the game for the sake of playing the game, I only play because I feel like I can improve and I’ve dedicated my whole career to leaving no stone unturned and enjoying the process of getting better as a player.

Rose made his fifth Ryder Cup appearance three years ago in Paris.

“That is still, ultimately, what gets me out of bed and that in turn creates results. I’ve definitely made some mistakes the last couple of years and they are only really mistakes in hindsight. I was trying to make a few good decisions.”

Back in November 2018 Rose successfully defended his title at the Turkish Airlines Open which took him back to World No.1 for the second time in his career. A new equipment deal with Honma was already in progress at that point and was rubberstamped in January 2019.

EQUIPMENT CHANGE

He won on his second start with the new clubs at Torrey Pines but is yet to win since, and just over a year later his Honma agreement was over. The loss of long-time Caddie Mark ‘Fooch’ Fulcher to health issues in 2019 also came as another blow and Rose also parted ways with coach Sean Foley.

This year Rose has replaced Henrik Stenson’s old bag-man Gareth Lord with David Cark, and has also taken on the services of a physio to work with him on the road.

“Some stuff has been out of my control – like Fooch and caddie stuff,” said Rose. “Some were my decisions. The way the whole side of things worked after getting to the top of the World Rankings. Some things didn’t fall into place after that.

“You make the best decision you can at the time, thinking it’s the right decision. But hindsight is a wonderful thing. I’ve pivoted as quickly as I can in those scenarios. Sometimes there’s water that’s gone under the bridge and you need to work your way back a little bit. It’s what my career has been about, I’ve had my ups and downs.”

“When I’m on the slide it makes me want to come out swinging and with my back against the wall a little bit, I kind of like it that way. It keeps me motivated and it keeps me hungry.”

Rose returned to World No.1 in January 2019 with victory in San Diego.

The changes have come thick and fast as Rose knows that in his 40s the chances of adding to his Major collection diminishes as fresh young talent emerges year after year. He has relocated back to the UK with his family hoping that it will be easier from a travel perspective.

SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT VIBE

“We still have our place in the Bahamas so we’re spending time there, the kids are doing their online learning from there, but the move helps from a travel point of view and seeing my family,” he said. “It’s going to be a simpler process for now. I’ve added a couple of new members to the team as I wanted to come into 2021 with a slightly different vibe. Changed my caddie. ‘Lordy’ continues to be a great friend of mine. We weren’t putting results on the board, it was one of those moments where we sat down looked at each other and said “shall we move on?” he said ‘yep’, perfect. No hard feelings.

“David Clark is a great friend of mine and an experienced caddie, he stepped up and is on the bag. We’ll have a lot more fun on the golf course and that can only help you play better. From a physio point of view, I’m focussed on the recovery, fitness and physio work on Tour. Tailoring my body better for the weeks I’m on Tour.

“I work hard in the gym at home, but sometimes on Tour I’ve not had that regular support to fine-tune myself for the week. Your golf swing is sometimes only as good as the body lets it be. I’ve fallen into a few bad habits and traps with the body over the last year or two and that’s manifested into my game a bit.”

With the building blocks in place and some good performances on the board without playing his best, look out for Rose as he plots a path towards reaching his Major goals in 2021.

Rose on his 2021 Schedule:

“I’ve got to play what events suit me, and a rhythm of golf that suits me. I like to play three events in a row and take a week or two off, then build another run of events. I don’t want it to be too stop-start. There’s a little more travel involved this year as well, so I need to be smart with how I put the schedule together. The first building block I’m working towards is the Masters and the run-up to Augusta, then your focus shifts onto the next Major. We all know 2021 is a massive year and there’s not too many breaths to take.”

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