Justin Rose returns to Ryder Cup contention with first PGA Tour win in four years

Justin Rose with the trophy - Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports

Justin Rose with the trophy – Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports

Justin Rose believes he has validated his decision to turn down the chance to join his European Ryder Cup peers in the jump ship to the LIV Golf League with his first win in four years leaving him in strong contention to September in Rome.

The 42-year-old reminded everyone – especially European captain Luke Donald – of his enduring quality with an ultra clinical victory on the PGA Tour at Pebble Beach on Monday that brought the former No.1 back into in the top 40 in the world.

It is a comeback that is as timely as the five-day legal hearing between the DP World Tour and the rebels who have joined the Saudi-funded circuit also begins in London.

Of his generation of blue and gold heroes – including Lee Weestwood, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson and Sergio García – Rose is the only one to turn down the huge eight-figure signing fees to pursue his ambition. adding the 2013 US Open title, as well as the gold at the 2016 Olympics.

“Access to the major championships was a big part of my decision,” said Rose after his three-shot victory to become the first European to win the 86-year-old AT&T Pro-Am.

“Obviously playing in events like this that have a great history, that gives access to an iconic course, that’s really important… to win the most important events. But first and foremost he is playing in the majors. I’ve won one, but that’s where my childhood dreams were and that’s what’s really important to me in the future.”

After expecting to miss his first Masters in 17 years, he has now qualified for the Augusta major. If Rose at least consolidates his position in the rankings, it’s hard to imagine Donald not choosing him as one of his six wild cards.

“Every great team needs a mix,” Rose said. “The most important part of the European team is the young people who will come through. Because you need the firepower, you need the talent, you need the guys who are not afraid. But you also need guys to be able to glue a few pieces of the team together.”

Rose informed Donald that he still has the competitive psyche as well as the game. When weather delayed California’s famous Monterey Peninsula layout, Rose overcame a debilitating spell of injury and training and equipment to claim his 11th title on the US circuit (a record held by an Englishman).

Sure, Donald will be delighted. Last month in Dubai he said Sports telegraph: “There was a lot of talk about Francesco [Molinari] returning to form and as an Italian with his Ryder Cup record, I’d love for him to play well enough to be there. But he is not the only one with experience that could benefit the team.

“Look at Justin. He was world No. 1 not long ago, is a proven winner and a formidable contender for the Ryder Cup. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Justin back there soon.

A prophetic statement from the astute captain. After hinting at a renaissance in the first weeks of 2023, Rose produced an impressive display in a tournament so blackened by Atlantic winds that balls were moving around the course.

Rose, who turned pro after finishing fourth in the Open as a 17-year-old and missing her first 22 cuts in the paid stages, was never less than resilient, resuming with a two-shot advantage over the fifth morning. with clinical intent.

He birdied a 30-footer on the 11th (the second hole of the day) and then turned in a 20-footer on the 13th before another birdie on the 14th allowed him to coast in with four pars to post a 66 for 18 under. complete to prevail by a stroke against Brandun Wu of America and Brendan Todd. The check for £1.37 million was just one reward in a win packed with bonuses.

“This reopens so many doors for me and it’s a relief,” he said. “Four years? Time flies, doesn’t it? It’s amazing how long it’s been. I was having my breakfast this morning and I saw a stat. come up on the Golf Channel – 86 starts since my last win and so many missed cuts. Let’s fix that.”

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