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For Justin Rose, The Bloom Is On

In the Bahamas the week before The Masters, Justin Rose and Adam Scott did some of their major-championship prep work against each other, playing a couple of matches in the Caribbean sunshine. Rose won the money both times but it was Scott who won The Masters a week later, beating Ángel Cabrera in the rain. If you want to stretch the meaning of the victory, look at the photos of Scott standing in the April shower wearing his new green jacket, letting the raindrops symbolically rinse away any lingering disappointment from his bitter Open Championship loss nine months earlier. Rose remembers thinking it was a tad unfair that he had beaten his buddy head-to-head twice in the Bahamas but The Masters had turned out differently. Rose, however, was thrilled for his friend, appreciating all that had gone into Scott’s first major-championship victory, and he took to heart the message Scott sent him after The Masters. “He basically said, this is our time,” Rose recalled. “Kind of saying, we’re 32. We’ve in a sense paid our dues and we have a lot of experience under our belts. It’s now or never in a way. It’s our time to go and get it done. Basically saying, I’m good enough, you’re good enough. It’s our time, so good luck.” It is their time. With his U.S. Open victory at Merion, Rose joined Scott in the major-champions club and they are at the top of their generation of players. They fall in a place between the Tiger-Phil generation and the Rory McIlroy-Keegan Bradley-Webb Simpson group. Rose and Scott are in the prime of their careers and are classic examples of how the game can be both cruel and hugely rewarding. Both Scott and Rose took failure and disappointment and used it to make themselves better. It paid off in career-changing victories. Golf isn’t unique in the story arcs it creates. Success, frustration and perseverance drive the narrative in all sports to one degree or another. Because of its solitary nature, however, golf tells individual stories more acutely than team sports can. Rose and Scott’s major victories capped journeys that stretched more than a decade. While both Bradley and Simpson won their majors the first time they were in serious contention, it didn’t happen that way for Rose and Scott. Though McIlroy was just 22 when he had his breakthrough victory at the 2011 U.S. Open, it came against the backdrop of his emotional collapse at The Masters two months earlier. Scott led the Open Championship by four strokes with four holes remaining last July only to see his friend Ernie Els capture the Claret Jug. As Rose was connecting the dots of Merion’s puzzle, he thought about what Scott and McIlroy went through before they won their majors. His story had its own dark plot line. After his grand T4 finish in the Open Championship as a 17-year old in 1998, Rose missed the cut in his first 21 events as a professional. The bloom, as it were, was off. Now Rose is the third-ranked player in the world, has a U.S. Open trophy and a chance to add to it at the Open Championship next month. “I take a lot of confidence from how (Scott) dealt with the heartbreak, like Rory did at The Masters,” Rose said. “It hit me at the U.S. Open that if you’re not willing to experience the heartache and heartbreak of losing a major, then you can’t really truly play your best and be free enough in the moment to get it done. “If you’re kind of apprehensive to what it might feel like to lose, I think that just struck me. I was good with the fact that you have to put yourself in the moment time and time again and be willing to keep knocking down the door.” Four years ago, Rose went to work with swing coach Sean Foley and credits his teacher with helping him become straighter and longer off the tee. Foley went beyond golf and his Sunday text to Rose at the U.S. Open – telling him to make his father proud – hit a soft spot with his student. The picture of Rose looking and pointing to the sky after he finished play on Sunday is one of the enduring images of the 2012 U.S.


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