Not getting picked to play for Europe at the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits was one of the more crushing moments for Justin Rose during a four-year slump which only ended recently with a victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
“It was definitely hurtful, I suppose,” the Englishman said on Tuesday [US time] at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera.
Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, had been in golfing wilderness since winning the 2019 Farmers Insurance at Torrey Pines. Back then, Rose was No.1 in the world. But after equipment and coaching changes, as well as a back injury, the 42-year-old had fallen as low as No. 84 on the Official World Golf Ranking. For that reason, Rose, who had been eligible for every major since the 2010 Open Championship, was in danger of ending his streak on the biggest stages.
“There isn’t one glaring [mistake that caused the slump], but definitely a few things that come to mind; just some unforeseens, from a professional point of view [like] equipment changes, caddie changes, coaching changes,” said the World No. 36, who in 2019 ended a 20-year partnership with TaylorMade to use irons made by Japanese manufacturer, Honma. It coincided with the start of his poor stretch.
Rose was also overlooked for a captain’s pick at the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, despite being a stalwart of the European team in five appearances–all of them victorious.
“Once you are part of a Ryder Cup you want to continue to feel that feeling,” Rose said. “That locker room environment, we don’t get very often so it is something incredibly special. Trying to be there for the team is something I really want to do. Obviously, a home Ryder Cup especially is a fun one to be a part of, and in Rome [this September] will be incredible.”
That slump ended earlier this month when Rose secured his 11th PGA Tour win and 23rd title worldwide over the last two decades.
“I realised, ‘Wow, I’ve missed that feeling.’ I really just enjoyed the last five or six holes and I enjoyed the competition. I enjoyed being in the hunt. That was great. I enjoyed remembering how to do it, quite honestly,” he said.
Rose said the win was inspired by a feeling of contentment off the course, led by the fact he has moved back to England after a long stint living in the Bahamas.
“I feel like contentment is the only thing I can say because clearly weather-wise and travel-wise it doesn’t make it easy,” Rose said of commuting to the U.S. to play on the PGA Tour. “I think there’s something about feeling settled and feeling like you make good decisions and taking care of the family, because ultimately that’s what we’re all trying to do is build a life where you’re bringing up good kids. So that contentment I guess is the one thing that I can put my head on the pillow at night and say, ‘Yeah, that’s a job well done’ and you can free roll with your career.”
Rose now hopes that contentment and confidence lead to two things: firstly, a spot on Luke Donald’s Ryder Cup team for Rome. Rose does not want to rely on Donald for one of six captain’s picks.
“The Ryder Cup is a big focus this year and extra motivation for sure,” Rose said. “I put myself in a position most years that I’ve made the team. Every time I’ve played in the Ryder Cup I’ve qualified for the team. [I’ve never been a captain’s] pick, so that tells me I’ve got to make the team.”
Secondly, he wants an elusive second major victory to go with his U.S. Open triumph at Merion 10 years ago. He wants to prove he is still among the game’s elite.
“I feel like in order to win another major you’ve got to consistently create the chances to win major championships,” he said. “That’s the level that I’m hopefully getting very close to. Lifting one of the four major championships would be the ultimate like, ‘Yeah I’ve still got it,’ feeling.”