CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND – Late Friday evening, the trunk was open and the engine running on Justin Rose’s getaway car from this Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Among the pretournament favorites, Rose had spent two days playing scratchy, uncertain golf and was on the wrong side of the cutline as he leaned over a 13-foot birdie putt on the 18th green.
Make it and he made the weekend. Miss and be gone.
“It was a soft little putt, which are often the toughest,” Rose said. “If I played too much left-to-right break, it could stay high. If I didn’t play enough or hit a great putt, I wouldn’t give myself a chance.”
Rose center-cut the birdie and made the weekend by a whisker.
Not that he was terribly excited about it Friday evening. All of that changed Saturday morning, which helps explain how Rose went out and shot 7-under-par 64, thrusting himself back into the Sunday conversation while tying Carnoustie’s Open scoring record.
“I think the first couple days were hard work and frustrating,” Rose said. “But then there’s a difference between being 3 over on Friday and way off the lead and 3 over and way off the lead on Saturday morning. You kind of feel a bit more grateful to be here rather than Friday night, you feel frustrated to be there.
“So I think the birdie on 18 (Friday) night freed me up, and I’m just very happy to be out on this golf course and not down the road somewhere else this morning. So that might have been part of the shift in mindset today. Obviously, I had nothing to lose from that point of view.”
In the second group out Saturday morning, Rose caught the best conditions of the week at Carnoustie. The greens were soft, the fire was out of the fairways and the wind had taken the morning off.
Rose turned in 2-under par for his round then shot 30 coming in, gathering momentum was he worked his way toward the finish. Rose birdied the 17th and 18th holes, as valuable as gold bricks at Carnoustie.
“I thought 4 or 5 under was going to be a good round but nothing special. Not going to do enough for me going into tomorrow,” he said. “I felt like those late couple birdies certainly will make tomorrow at least interesting.”