It's fitting that Justin Rose won the 2013 U.S. Open on a course that demands driving accuracy, because that's the area where the 32-year-old has improved the most.
Rose picked up his first Major victory at Merion Golf Club on Sunday, posting a one-over-par 281. The work he has done with his driver has been exceptional.
On the 18th on Sunday, with a major on the line, Rose drove the ball straight down the fairway.
According to the Associated Press, via ESPN.com, Rose said after the victory: "When I came over the hill and saw my ball laying in the fairway, I thought, 'This is my moment.' It was me hitting from the middle of the fairway."
Talk about a complete 180.
Granted, it wasn't all about driving accuracy for Rose at the U.S. Open this year. He ranked 156th in putting (strokes gained) headed into Merion, but putted well on the course, making some big putts down the stretch.
But it has to feel extra special for Rose when he looks at this victory and knows he wouldn't have stood a chance at Merion a few years ago. It's a testament to his hard work on the driving range in the past couple of years.
Rose had seven top-10 finishes in the Majors before winning his first. That included two top-10 finishes at the U.S. Open. But he had missed the cut in three straight appearances at the U.S. Open before placing 21st last year at The Olympic Golf Club in San Francisco. It wasn't just a coincidence that Rose bounced back, and his driving accuracy was certainly a part of that.
It's not just accuracy off the tee. Rose is driving the ball farther these days. He ranked 26th on tour in driving distance before the 2013 U.S. Open, as opposed to 80th in that category in 2012.
Golf instructor Tyrus York noted before the U.S. Open this year:
And while driving distance isn't as important at Merion as it is on other courses, there are places where hitting the ball a little farther pays off.
It's an incredible accomplishment to capture a major. But when you capture it after conquering an area that was once a weakness, that has to feel like even more of a feat.
Make no mistake about it, Justin Rose conquered his prior demons at Merion on Sunday.
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