“It was a disappointing day for him,” said Mark Fulcher (Fooch), Justin Rose’s caddie. He meant the combination of Rose’s collapse at the Travelers Championship on Sunday and England’s loss to Germany in the World Cup match.
As Rose walked up the path toward the scoring trailer, he widened his eyes and let out a big breath, like he was saying, “Oh boy, thank God that’s over.”
Rose entered the final round with a three-shot lead, but he left with T9 after posting a five-over 76. Watching from behind the 15th green, I saw him dunk his drive in the water on the drivable par 4 and then chop the ball into the hole for a double-bogey — it was painful, almost reminiscent of Dustin Johnson’s collapse on the 3rd hole a week ago at the US Open (obviously this was on a much smaller scale). He looked beleaguered.
So, what happened? It wasn’t the nerves of the final day. It was just a continuation of poor putting that started on Saturday.
“In the last six rounds of golf, [Justin has] putted beautifully,” said Fooch. “Over the last two days, the longest putt we’ve made in 36 holes is four feet, 3 inches. It’s like anything in golf. you need momentum and the putting often creates that momentum.”
The breaking point came on the 14th hole when Rose missed a five-footer for par to get back to 15-under.
“I felt today if he holed the putt [on 14], I think we win, Fooch added. But the reality is, however mentally tough you are — and he’s getting better and better as he gets older and obviously more experienced — there comes a point in the round where you’re almost mentally beat and I think that happened there…it was the straw that broke the camel’s back this week.”
While his 16-month-year-old son walked up to his golf bag and reached his arms up with a yelp for a club, Rose graciously answered questions from the media.
“It’s hard to play golf when you feel like you’re going to miss every putt from two feet,” he said. “You know what I mean? I was just that uncomfortable on the greens all day.”
But Fooch put things in perspective.
“The reality is that he’s building a career and not a week,” he said. “It’s so easy to forget The Memorial and the week before, which perhaps wasn’t as good. Fact of the matter is, you’ve got to try and isolate each shot individually and string them together and eventually become better and better. Obviously the critics will have something to say about today, but the reality is that two weeks ago, he was simply fantastic. We’re halfway through the year and I think we’re going to see some special things from him.”
Indeed. And at the very least, it appears Leo, who shrieked gleefully as he took some swings with the measuring stick, has a bright future ahead of him.