Justin Rose: US Open champion deserves more recognition

By Iain CarterBBC golf correspondent
Rose reflects on 'emotional' US Open win

Justin Rose's ninth place in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, where he polled fewer than 10,000 votes, was a poor reflection of the huge achievement of becoming US Open champion.

By winning the year's second major, Rose followed the recent UK spikemarks of Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy. He became the first Englishman to lift the trophy since Tony Jacklin 43 years ago.

While there is no suggestion that he in any way eclipsed Andy Murray, it does feel that the worth of this victory has been undervalued by the British sporting public.

Justin Rose happy to have broken the curse of English golfers

It is hard to overestimate the scale of Rose's achievement on a brutally difficult Merion course last June. "It's the toughest test we'll play all year," Luke Donald commented after marking the winner's card.

"I've played a lot of golf with Justin, from when he was 14 to now, and seen the highs and lows that he's gone through," added Donald, who played with Rose in his triumphant final round.

"I respect Justin because he works hard at his game. He's diligent and he puts a lot of effort in, and it was good to see him win."

This was a player whose professional career had begun with 21 missed cuts. He had graduated to become a winner on the European and PGA Tours and at World Golf Championships, and was a Ryder Cup hero at Medinah.

In the months prior to his maiden major victory, Rose had said he felt ready to land one of the big four titles. He was simply waiting for the right week to come.

At Merion, the 33-year-old Englishman exuded a sense of calm to provide substance to the claim. There was a serenity reminiscent of Darren Clarke's unflappable demeanour when he won the Open in 2011.

It suggested Rose should have the temperament to produce a killer blow at just the right moment.

Throughout that US Open week we had been bombarded with one particular image. It was Ben Hogan's iconic one iron to Merion's final holeexternal-link when he won the US Open in 1950.

As Rose arrived on his 72nd hole it was proving the most difficult on the course. Phil Mickelson was chasing behind and the pressure was on.

From the middle of the fairway, close to the plaque commemorating Hogan's brilliance, Rose unleashed a four iron of stunning quality that shaved the hole as it skipped to the back of the green.

In that very shot lay abundant proof that he was indeed ready. "It is such an iconic hole," Rose recalled when he spoke to BBC Sport.

"We have all grown up with that image [of Hogan] in our minds. For me to have hit a shot of similar quality to seal the deal - that's something I can probably embellish over the years when I'm grey and old," he smiled.

It was quickly pointed out that the quality of the shot requires no exaggeration. "I suppose it does speak for itself," he admitted.

"It's an incredibly tough hole. There hadn't been a birdie there all day and to have a one-inch par tap-in was exactly what I needed to win my first major," he said.

Once the ball had been retrieved from the hole, Rose famously looked and pointed to the sky and everyone knew of whom he was thinking.

"The fact that it was Father's Day was not lost on me," said Rose, who lost his dad Ken to leukaemia a dozen years earlier. "I guess everybody was emotional. I sensed people who had known me for a long time, they all felt for me as well - in a good way.

"I had been full circle, been through it all with my dad. My dad had seen me struggle but fortunately he'd also seen me win on tour as a pro.

"But what I'm most grateful for about winning the US Open is just how connected I felt to my dad."

Rose had been resigned to not being able to share a similar experience to McIlroy and McDowell, who both celebrated winning their US Opens by hugging their dads on Father's Day.

"I was really, really surprised how good it felt and how connected I felt with him in that moment. That's an emotion I hadn't had for 10 years so it was incredibly moving and special," Rose added.

Apart from a poor showing at the Open at Muirfield - "I tried to kid myself I was ready, but looking back I wasn't" - he has taken in his stride his new role as a major champion.

Rose: Dad set me targets

"I remember the interview I had with you in the media centre that night," Rose said of the evening he became champion. "You said life is going to change now and I said I didn't want it to and you said I should have thought about that before winning!

"But it hasn't been that bad in terms of things changing and everything going upside down. It's been a phenomenally positive experience.

"It really sank in when I went back to Merion. I went with a group of my very closest friends. Basically it was a boys' trip away - have a few beers and play on some great golf courses.

"The really cool thing was that the course was set up like it was for the US Open. The fairway lines and the shape of the holes were exactly the same as we played in June."

Rose has also been back to the North Hants Golf Clubexternal-link where he spent his formative years under the watchful eye of his dad. He also made many friends among the membership there.

A display commemorating his major triumph now sits proudly in the clubhouse. He was understandably delighted to take the US Open trophy to the club where it had all started.

"It was a very, very amazing moment to see the members drinking out of it, having a few pints out of it was quite the moment."

But the time for drinking in the glory of his triumph is now long past. It is time to look forward with the major monkey off his back.

"I'm very excited about the next - well let's call it 10 years," he said. "I'm driven to succeed and write myself into the history books as best I can.

"I guess when you win a major you are already in the history books, but let's see how far I can get and how many pages I can write," Rose concluded.

Such perspective allied to the experience of his brilliance at Merion suggest Rose is ready to remain firmly in the vanguard of a golden UK generation. It is one that deserves a bit more recognition than it is getting.

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