ERIN, WISCONSIN — Among his peers, Justin Rose stands out for the thought and careful way he prepares for a big tournament. He is detective-like in his dogged determination to find out as much as he possibly can about a course so that come competition time he will not find himself in a situation he has not prepared for.
His reconnaissance for Erin Hills was typical. He and Mark Fulcher (aka “Fooch”), his caddie of nine years, spent two days there the previous week when hardly anyone else was on the property, slowly plotting their way round each hole, noting their thoughts down in little spiral-bound notebooks. “Rosie’s course management is second to none” Fooch said. “Why? Because he is intelligent, hard working and analytical. I think he gets that last from Ken, his Dad.”
Really thorough preparation might be why Rose was not one of those complaining at the density of the fescue before it was trimmed on Tuesday morning, as Kevin Na and Lee Westwood had done. Nor was he railing about the blind drives or the fiendish bunkers. Preparation, as well as absence, makes the heart grow fonder.
“We played our first nine holes and when we came in for lunch we still hadn’t formed an opinion” Rose said. “Obviously it was incredibly long. The scale of this golf course is something you don’t often see. Then I played the back nine and I loved it.
“The back nine really cemented my opinion of the golf course. It is obviously incredibly demanding, it’s long off the tee but there is room to play. I like the green complexes. Normally on new courses you have green complexes that are overworked. These are not.”
Golfers rarely win over courses they don’t like, feel uncomfortable on or don’t fit their eye. That being said, watch out for Rose on Sunday afternoon, Father’s Day, and the fourth anniversary of his victory in the U.S. Open at Merion in 2013.