To say that Justin Rose merely won the 2014 Quicken Loans National would be an understatement – he overcame it. In a week where Congressional Country Club took a toll on some of the greatest players in the world, Rose showed the skill and grit that earned him last year’s U.S. Open, and he could be primed for another major run.
In the last five editions of this tournament held at Congressional, the highest winning score was eight under par, posted by Tiger Woods in 2012. That was the year after Rory McIlroy ran away with the U.S. Open there, and the course might have been even tougher this time around. Only ten players broke par for the week, with six accomplishing that feat on Sunday.
Rose was one of those, but on the 72nd hole of the tournament, it looked like all his day’s work could disappear in just one swing. After hitting his drive into the left rough, he was faced with an awkward approach. He made an absolute hero shot, firing a low stinger through a narrow gap between two trees, but ran the ball into a water hazard.
Undaunted, however, Rose got up and down for a bogey, putting him in a playoff with Shawn Stefani. On the first extra hole, Stefani made almost the exact same mistake that nearly cost Rose the win, and in doing so basically handed him the trophy. It was Rose’s first win since Merion, and now he appears to be on the fast track for Royal Liverpool.
Rose has gone somewhat under the radar this season, but that really should end now. In his last six PGA Tour starts dating back to the Masters, the only time Rose failed to finish in the top-15 was his missed cut at the Memorial Tournament. In reality, that was just a blip on the radar, the type of slow week that every player is bound to have from time to time.
Right now, the field for the Open Championship is wide open, and while Rose doesn’t get a ton of press Stateside, he’s staking his claim as one of the true early favorites for the year’s third major.