Rose Comfortable in Contention at Formidable Oak Hill
Justin Rose has been around. He knows what it takes to win a major. Get to No. 1 in the world. Do the darn thing.
Rose isn’t young anymore. He’s not that old, either. But he broke a four-year winless drought on the PGA TOUR earlier this year, with a three-shot triumph at Pebble Beach. He’s 17th in strokes gained total this year. He’s solid. Steady.
And through 36 holes at Oak Hill Country Club, the major winner is in the conversation at the PGA Championship.
Rose started with birdies on Nos. 10 and 12 before adding another circle on his scorecard on the par-4 16th. He came in with an even-par 70 after bogeys on Nos. 18, 6, and 7. The par-4 sixth is playing as the most difficult hole on the course, playing more than a half-shot over par.
As the rain began falling mid-afternoon Friday, Rose was just four shots back of the lead held by Scottie Scheffler.
With a laugh, Rose described his day as “smoke and mirrors” – as he hit only two fairways. But that’s where Rose’s maturity came in handy. He caught a few good lies in the rough, but when Rose had a bad one he took his medicine and pitched out to avoid a big number.
“The fact that I made 10 birdies is remarkable considering how I've put the ball in play off the tee,” Rose admitted. “Iron play I felt was pretty good, and obviously I have made some really nice mid-range putts. There's definitely been some highlights in the game the last couple of days.
“Lots to look forward to and to have kind of going into the weekend, but kind of nice to know that I can maybe try and tighten a few things up as well.”
Rose, who shot 1 over to win the U.S. Open 10 years ago, said he thrives on difficult golf courses.
“I've won typically on harder golf courses than not, so I think it fits my profile from that point of view. This is right up there,” said Rose. “I think you have to […] obviously take your chances. There are chances. If you do drive the ball in play, there's a few fun pins.
“Those are the moments in your round you have to pick up three, four birdies and then ride some of the tougher holes and tough breaks that you're going to get out there.”
Rose has played the PGA Championship the best of any of the majors over the last five years. He hasn’t missed the cut since 2017 and his last three results were ninth, T-8, T-13.
And, after his win at Pebble Beach earlier this year, he’s got the confidence to know that when he gets near the top of the leaderboard, he belongs there. He can do it.
“I felt like that was the biggest thing for me. Not necessarily just winning, but how I won. I felt very, very comfortable once I kind of got into that winning position, and it was kind of clear that it was going to be right now or never,” Rose said. “Just I've done it before, and just the fact of knowing I can do it again is important.”
Steady play, confidence and experience. It would all add up to a special weekend for Justin Rose.