Why Justin Rose’s Pebble Beach win had major meaning for the 42-year-old
Since teeing it up in the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews, Justin Rose has been eligible for every major championship. He had played in 48 straight until last year’s 150th Open at the Old Course, where he injured his back warming up prior to his first round and was forced to withdraw. But otherwise, the 42-year-old Rose has been a consistent presence at pro golf’s most prestigious events.
That was about to change, however, before Rose’s victory Monday at Pebble Beach, a win that earned him a berth in this year’s Masters, which he had not yet been eligible for after plummeting to No. 84 in the Official World Golf Ranking earlier this year and only entering last week at No. 71.
Rose’s last worldwide title was at the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open, when he was still world No. 1.
“Augusta’s definitely been a big part of being on my mind,” Rose said Monday. “I thought the simple way to approach it was try to play my way into the top 50 in the world. … That was my intention was to come out and play solid and earn some points and claw my way up the world rankings and make it that way. Obviously, this is a better way to make it by winning a tournament. It’s funny how you, by winning, you earn the points, and everything takes care of itself.”
Rose’s win officially bumped him up to No. 35 in the world rankings. When he fell out of the top 50 in the OWGR last year, it marked the first time that he’d been in such a position since June 2010. Now, he’s in great position to play all four majors this year, having also already qualified for the U.S. Open by way of his 2013 victory at Merion.
But even at this stage of his career, Rose doesn’t just want to be in the field.
He still feels like he can compete for those giant trophies.
The numbers back that up, too: His T-13 last May at the PGA Championship marked his 12th straight year of at least one top-15 finish in a major, and prior to last year he had gone seven straight seasons with at least one top-10.
“I feel like I’ve achieved enough in the game where I don’t strive for being back to No. 1 in the world,” Rose said. “My only goal is to really play well enough where I feel like I can win majors. Obviously, rule No. 1, you got to be in them, so obviously moments like this are very important because it gets me back in those sorts of tournaments. Two, I just want to keep working on my game to the level where I feel like if I have a good week and I play well like I got a chance to win a major. That’s what I feel my forte’s going to be all about.
“I feel like I pretty much ticked most other boxes, but the major championship hurdle is one that I want more of.”
Rose admitted that his desire to scratch that major itch helped dissuade him from taking the money and joining LIV Golf. It was, in his words, a large part of it actually. The Englishman said he had “moments where I leaned into it a little more closely.”
“But when push comes to shove,” he added, “there was never a moment where you’re like, ‘OK, well, there’s a pathway to achieve this, this, and this.’”
So, ultimately, Rose decided against an eight-figure payday – or whatever LIV tempted him with.
When a reporter asked Rose to corroborate if he was saying that receiving, say, $60 to $80 million up front was less important than getting into the majors, Rose clarified.
“Not as important as winning a major or two, for sure,” Rose said. “But you got to be in it to win it. I think that’s it. Just sort of giving up on that opportunity is what you got to look yourself in the mirror and just say, you know, is that something that’s worth it for me.”
“I’ve been one of the players that’s very fortunate to have done very well at the game of golf, so moments like I’ve just had – and it’s nice to speak about it from [here] – I made the decision based upon blind faith. Hope to win. Hope to put myself in the situation. My game hasn’t produced many, many of those opportunities of late. But still have had that belief that it’s possible.
“So, to be in the situation on the 18th green at a place like Pebble holding a trophy, like that’s what it’s for.”