Evidence is beginning to accumulate to suggest that Justin Rose might well be the next power player in professional golf.
With all due respect to Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods (at this point) and superstar-in-waiting Jordan Spieth, Rose made another big statement with his victory in the Quicken Loans National last weekend at Congressional Country Club.
What does that mean for the rest of Rose's 2014 season?
Well, for starters, the win in yet another big event on a difficult golf course just solidifies his status as a big-time player.
There are two major championships, a World Golf Championships event, the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Ryder Cup left on the schedule, and there's no reason to believe he won't be in the mix for all of those.
Rose has six wins on the PGA Tour and six wins on the European Tour. Check out the ones on this side of the Atlantic:
- The 2010 Memorial Tournament, Muirfield Village Golf Club.
- The 2010 AT&T National, Aronimink Golf Club.
- The 2011 BMW Championship, Cog Hill Golf and Country Club.
- The 2012 World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, TPC Blue Monster at Doral.
- The 2013 U.S. Open, Merion Golf Club.
- The 2014 Quicken Loans National, Congressional Country Club.
Oh, and don't forget the major role he played in Europe, winning the Ryder Cup in 2012. In a Sunday singles match against Phil Mickelson, Rose drained putts of 10, 35 and 12 feet on the last three holes to beat Mickelson by one stroke, helping Europe roll through the first five matches against the U.S.
It wasn't all that long ago when we wondered if Rose was ever going to become a truly elite player because of his inability to nail down a major.
Until he won the U.S. Open last year, he was on a Mickelson-like winless streak of 38 straight major championships.
Maybe we were spoiled by the 18-year-old kid who exploded onto the scene in the 1998 Open Championship with a hole-out from the rough on the final hole on Sunday to finish in a tie for fourth. Great things were expected of him from the moment he turned professional the next day.
It took a while—actually into the last decade—before he was able to cash in on the promise that burst through the rough in 1998.
But when he did, Rose did so on some of the toughest tracks in the world.
Now, at age 33, Rose is in what is generally considered the prime of his career. He's healthy after battling tendinitis in his shoulder and is showing more and more how tough he is.
For example, he was 83rd on the leaderboard after the opening round at Congressional, the highest any winner on the PGA Tour has been after one round. What does he do? He comes back with a 65 in the second round.
Expanding on that a bit, Rose has trailed by two or more shots going into the final round in four of those six PGA Tour victories.
For me, the most telling tidbit of information about Rose and what he might do going forward is the fact that he has now won in five straight seasons. That's pretty cool in itself, but even more so in that he has won the year following a major championship—something Scott did after winning his major at Augusta.
That is not the norm at all for first-time major winners (see: Bubba Watson), who often prevail at a major and then disappear for long stretches of time.
Speaking with reporters via Philip Reid of The Irish Times, Rose was well aware that he hadn't won since Merion in June of 2013 and took that very seriously:
It's a big boost. It has not been lost on me that I have not won for a year, over a year. The clock passed a year at the US Open (in Pinehurst), so it was nice to get on the right side of that very quickly. I’ve been semi in contention this year without winning. It’s a really nice time of year to have a victory and allows me to focus on exciting challenges now ahead.
Rose now turns his attention to Royal Liverpool—a place he's never played, but a course on which he intends to get some practice rounds in the next couple weeks.
Trying to win in his own country won't be easy, but there's plenty of evidence building that Rose has the constitution to handle that and continue on to a very big 2014.
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