SOUTHAMPTON, New York—Justin Rose was coming up on 15 years as a pro and still didn’t have a major.
What he found was perspective.
“Between 30 and 40, that’s going to be my opportunity to go really out and get things done,” Rose said. “That’s 40 major championships. I’m going to create chances with those 40. I’m going to be on leaderboards.”
More than getting into weekend conditions, however, was realizing that it wasn’t always going to work out. It was OK to fail.
That was the secret to playing so well under pressure at Merion, where he broke through in the 2013 US Open.
“I think what happened to me at Merion, I also realized I’m going to win majors, and I’m also going to lose majors,” he said. “You can’t skip through your career without one or two slipping through the net. It’s a byproduct of being on the leaderboard that those things happen. So I wasn’t scared of losing, and that helped me win my first major championship. I wasn’t shying away from the pressure of trying to win my first major.”
Rose had top 10s in the majors, but he didn’t have a lot of chances in his 20s. The lone exception was 2007 at the Masters, where he started the final round one shot out of the lead, closed with a 73 and finished three shots back.
Since his victory at Merion, he played in the final group at the 2015 Masters and couldn’t make up any ground on Jordan Spieth’s four-shot lead, and he lost a two-shot lead on the back nine in the 2017 Masters before losing in a playoff to Sergio Garcia. He also started three back on the final day at Saint Andrews in 2015.
“Ideally in your career, you grasp more than slip away, right?” he said. “But it’s a byproduct of being a good player and being on the leaderboard that both things are going to happen.”
The message applies to Rickie Fowler, who finished one shot behind Patrick Reed at the Masters. Fowler also had a share of the lead on the back nine at Valhalla in the 2014 Professional Golfers’ Association Championship, and he played in the final group at two majors that same year.
A year ago at the US Open, Fowler started the final round two shots behind.
“He’s creating those opportunities,” Rose said. “He played plenty well enough at the Masters that it could have been his year. He will let one or two go in the future. He’s going to be on the leaderboard for a long, long time, and I’m sure things are going to line up for him more than once.”