Justin Rose won the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he will be attempting to go back-to-back at Pinehurst No. 2. Curtis Strange was the last player to win consecutive U.S. Opens 25 years ago, ’88 and ’89. It is one of the toughest feats in golf, but Justin Rose has the local knowledge to get it done.
Rose does not live at Pinehurst, but he was able to play a round with legendary caddie Willie Lee McRae by his side. McRae has been a caddie at Pinehurst for 71 years, and Rose learned a great deal from him, “Everybody around here reveres him, loves him, so I thought it was just a special opportunity for me to be out there with Willie. His knowledge on the golf course is unbelievable. I think any time you are within six or eight feet of the cup most guys can read putts, most caddies can read putts. But where Willie was amazing was if I was short of the green and I was playing to a pin that was 30 on, he would say, okay, land this two yards right of the hole. It’s going to go left, right, then left again. And you pretty much aimed it about two yards right of the pin and it would go left, right and left again. It would be pretty close to the pin. So his ability to read long range shots and really know the rub of the green and the terrain was, that’s what I thought was very, very useful.”
In addition to the insights from McRae, Rose’s putting instructor, David Orr, knows Pinehurst very well, “[David] loves Pinehurst, he lived in the area for a little while, so he definitely knows the golf course. He’s been valuable from that perspective.”
Rose also spoke about how Orr helped him with his putting, “Definitely with my putting I wasn’t in a great place a couple years ago, and I feel a lot more of a natural putter now, and I think that that’s going to really stand me in good stead for the next 10 years of my career. Putting is a part of the game that should be natural. And when it is natural it’s a lot easier to absorb pressure and all those types of things with your mechanics. So I think that the work we have done is going to pay off, it has paid off, but even last year my stroke wasn’t great but we built a stroke that we knew would work. We built a stroke knowing what my tendencies were, and that’s the kind of knowledge he has. It’s very easy to chase perfection in this game and that doesn’t always make you a better player. But understanding what you have and how to deal with it, so he’s been a very valuable addition to the team.”
Local knowledge, good putting, and defending champion vibes all point to a successful week for Justin Rose.
–Bernie D’Amato (@bdamato711)