ATLANTA (Reuters) - Tournament wins on both sides of the Atlantic have made 2014 “a good year” for world number five Justin Rose, who says a slightly better showing in the majors would have transformed his campaign into a great one.
For the most part, the Englishman was happy with his performances in golf’s four grand slams where he pinpointed his only blemishes as slow starts at the Masters and U.S. Open, along with an occasional putting lapse.
“This year, if I sum it up, I was close in the majors,” Rose told Reuters at East Lake Golf Club ahead of Thursday’s opening round at the season-ending Tour Championship, the PGA Tour’s fourth and final FedExCup playoff event.
”Everything was top 25 or better but I just couldn’t quite get that run in a major when I needed it. I felt I played some very good golf in the majors and I take a lot of encouragement that my game suits the major championships.
“But having won one last year, (the U.S. Open at Merion) my emphasis is on playing well in those big events. So it’s been a good year but a better showing in the majors would have made it a great year.”
Rose, who landed his first grand slam title by two shots at last year’s U.S. Open after overhauling 54-hole leader Phil Mickelson in the final round, readily admitted that putting had been an occasional Achilles’ heel for him at the 2014 majors.
“I struggled at the PGA Championship with putting and then at the Open championship I was on the wrong side of the draw,” said the 34-year-old, who tied for 23rd at the (British) Open in July before finishing joint 24th at the PGA the following month.
”(The British Open) was disappointing because I actually played really well the first two days and the leaders just stretched out a long way from us (after benefiting from more favorable weather conditions).
“I played with Adam Scott and both of us I think were leading the tournament on the other side of the draw through two days. But that’s part of the Open.”
Rose paid the penalty for slow starts in the year’s first two majors, the Masters in April when he tied for 14th and the U.S. Open in June when he ended up in a share of 12th place.
”At the U.S. Open, I was close,“ he smiled. ”At Augusta (for the Masters), I was six over through the first 12 holes and at the U.S. Open I was four over through 10 so I just got off to bad starts.
“If I can get out of the gates a little bit quicker next year, that will be good.”
A six-times winner on the PGA Tour, Rose is delighted to have qualified for the elite limited field at the Tour Championship for a fifth year in a row.
“It’s something I am proud of,” he said. “I’ve been here five years in a row, and that’s not easy to do. So it’s a tick off the list. And winning on both sides of the pond was definitely a goal of mine this year too.”
Rose, who was hampered by a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the first six weeks this year, won the PGA Tour’s Quicken Loans National in June before clinching the European Tour’s Scottish Open in his next start.
“After I won those two tournaments back-to-back there in the summer, I felt good about then going on to compete well in the majors,” he said.
”Hopefully that freshness will pay off this week and into the Ryder Cup because a lot of guys are (fatigued) right now after a busy stretch of golf.
“I took a strategic week off at the Deutsch Bank (the second playoff event) which I was hoping would pay off a little bit better for me last week. It didn‘t, but hopefully it will do two weeks down the track (at the Ryder Cup).”
Rose will be representing Europe for a third time at the Ryder Cup when the holders host the United States at Gleneagles in Scotland from Sept. 26-28.
Editing by Frank Pingue