Justin Rose began the year with a different set of objectives.
His back was starting to bother him. His world ranking dropped to its lowest in 13 years. And he had reason to consider spending the first full week of April somewhere other than Augusta National.
All of that changed Monday morning, when Rose finished a long week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with three quick birdies and four steady pars for a three-shot win, his first in four years.
Along with the $1.62 million prize and the crystal trophy — his 11th on the PGA Tour and 23rd overall — comes an invitation to the Masters. Rose has been eligible for every major tournament since St. Andrews.
In 2010, he began a streak that he did not want to end.
“Augusta has definitely been on my mind,” Rose said after finishing with a 6-under 66 in cool but perfect conditions at Pebble Beach. “I thought the simple way to approach it was try to play my way into the top 50 in the world … claw my way up the world rankings and make it that way.
“Obviously this,” he said, tapping the crystal on a table next to him, “is a better way to make it by winning a tournament. So, yeah, big relief from that standpoint.”
The wind-delayed tournament forced a Monday finish, and Rose had taken a two-shot lead with an eagle-birdie stretch along the ocean on Sunday night.
Then, at various points on the course, he delivered a knockout punch to as many as a dozen players who were within three shots of the lead.
Rose continued his round with a two-putt par on the 10th, a 25-foot birdie putt on the 11th, a 20-foot birdie putt on the 13th, and a wedge to the back shelf on the 14th.
to 8 feet on the par-5 14th for a third birdie.
From there, it was all about staying safe and taking in the scenery.
For all of the weather this week — and there was a lot of it — the final three hours featured a stunning blue sky and big surf, waves crashing into the rocks and adding to a scenery that is already among the best in golf.
Brendon Todd (65) and Brandon Wu (65) finished three shots behind Rose (66).
“From start to finish, it’s been an incredible week with so much going in my favour,” Rose said.
The 42-year-old Englishman had not won since Torrey Pines in 2019, when he was world No. 1. Last year, he finished at No. 76, his lowest position since early in 2010.
“It’s amazing how long it’s been,” Rose said after his victory, which moved him up to No. 35.
The back nine, which had been so difficult in the final hours of Sunday evening, was no longer a threat Monday morning. The wind was light and coming from the opposite direction, if anything from behind the players rather than in front of them.
Everyone was affected by the weather this week Rose benefited similarly.
He was six shots off the lead and heading nowhere on the Shore course at Monterey Peninsula, facing the strongest wind of the week, when he hit a 5-wood into the par-3 ninth to 3 feet. The wind blew his ball 4 feet away before he could mark it.
That was enough for officials to halt play on all three courses in the rotation — the ninth and 15th greens at Monterey Peninsula were the issue. Rose returned on Sunday morning and made a 7-foot birdie putt.
What were his chances of winning if golf balls – his and others – weren’t flying around at that point?
“It is extremely painful for them. “That was a break,” Rose admitted. “I suppose
If you’re on tour long enough, you’ll occasionally get a good break. So there you have it. A good one.”
He finished the final 10 holes in 6 under par for a 65 to take the lead, and a crucial stretch Sunday evening gave him a cushion. Rose took it from there, delivering a masterclass in iron play and putting.
Denny McCarthy was two shots back when play resumed, and he missed birdie chances on the 16th and 17th holes. He finished four shots behind the leaders, Keith Mitchell (68) and Peter Malnati (64). (69).
This week’s weather was dominated by wind rather than rain, though Pebble provided a bit of both. On Sunday, there was rain, wind, hail, and sunshine all within a one-hour period.
When Rose arrived, all of that was a distant memory.
finished with a smile as bright as the sun.
“Just walking up 18 and being able to build a bit of a lead and kind of enjoy it was a very special moment,” he said. “When you’re a little desperate for a win, the fact that it came today on a weather day like we had and at a venue like we had today was just worth the wait.”