5 Things: How Justin Rose became a gold medal winner
1) A hole-in-one will help
The last time Justin Rose made a hole-in-one it was at the 2004 Chrysler Classic of Greensboro. Not surprisingly, given the sponsor, he received a car.
Fast forward 12 years to Rio and Rose was at it again, no car this time but plenty of kudos.
On Thursday the Englishman became the first player to record a hole-in-one in the Olympic Games. He wanted to hit an 8-iron at the 189-yard 4th but his caddy, Mark Fulcher, persuaded him to club up.
“I listened to him for once and it worked out, so I’ll give that one to him,” Rose said. “It’s one of those icing-on-the-cake moments. When you’re the first to do anything no one can ever take that away from you. That was definitely a cool moment.”
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) August 11, 2016
2) The Olympics WAS always a big deal for Rose
Seemingly, as every week went by, we saw another big-name golfer drop out of the Games. By the time the teams were finalised the top four in the world had all made their excuses.
Not so Rose, the world No 12, and never was there any doubt over his taking part. The 36-year-old has always been up for Rio, there might have been a different schedule to the Majors and whatever else but Rose was always going to tee it up in Brazil.
Speaking at the Open in July he explained how his wife Kate’s former gymnastic career – she was a sports acro gymnast which is not Olympic recognised – had helped fuel his ambitions. He also saw it for what it was.
“I’m treating it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I think that at this stage of my career it’s something that comes around once every four years,” Rose said. “When it’s once every four years, it’s something you can certainly make an exception for, and that’s been my attitude towards it. Just being a part of Team GB, in a sense you feel like you’re part of something bigger than just your individual sport as well.
“I’ve never been to an Olympic games in any capacity. To go, obviously, as an athlete is a huge honour.”
3) His fellow athletes proved an inspiration
There aren’t too many Olympians who live the life that Rose does; the private jets, million-dollar deals, courtesy cars, homes around the world and what not.
So, to spend time in other athletes’ company can be a truly inspirational experience, as it was for Rose who was in Rio in time for the opening ceremony.
“The energy of that was incredible. Being in the Olympic Village, meeting the other athletes. Just being around like‑minded people, people who train hard, work hard, who are disciplined, who obviously enjoy what they do.
“Sometimes I prefer learning from other sports and other athletes than I do golfers for some reason. Just you can always find one or two things that you can relate to and that you can implement out on the course.”
Asked to single out one sport Rose chose the gymnasts, a sport which, in every aspect, is a world away from golf.
“That was quite eye‑opening to see how incredibly difficult the moves are that they have to pull off. And obviously they have literally their body on the line if something goes wrong; yet, the level of distraction around them is incredible. It kind of made me realise that I could do a better job, of sort of tunnelling in and forgetting some of the distractions that can be out there on the course.
“You can only imagine the amount of pain they go through in the gym to push themselves to be 100 per cent fit. You know, one slip or one wrong move when you tumble or whatever it might be; it could be the end of your Olympic gold hopes.”
As it transpired when Rose did need to block out the distractions and produce his very best, he did.
4) Even Phelps had a hand in the win
On Tuesday Michael Phelps won the 200m butterfly, one of five golds and a silver. The following day, in practice, Fulcher showed Rose this photo of the American beating South Africa’s Chad le Clos. The image proved to be a powerful one for GB’s latest gold medal winner.
“Part of our mentality was just to keep our eyes forward and play as hard as we could and take care of our business,” Rose said. “I knew that would be a strategy that wouldn’t necessarily give me an advantage but it was something that was going to be very, very useful. It was a nice, powerful image on which to work off.”
5) He is now injury free
On paper 2016 has been relatively ordinary for Rose. The Majors have been steady away – T10 MC T22 T22 – but he had to miss Wentworth through a back injury and there had been no wins on either Tour.
Now, though, he is playing pain free, something he hasn’t done since March.
“I haven’t been able to be up to my normal speed in terms of practice. Probably since Doral I’ve been struggling to be honest with you. It’s nice to be through that.
It flared up again after The Players and I’ve just been doing a lot of diligent rehab and what have you to get fit and ready. I got myself back for the U.S. Open. But still improving week on week, probably up until now. So I’m certainly out of pain but just getting everything fully up 100 per cent and running again.”
Roll on the Ryder Cup where Rose will likely spend some more time with Stenson.
• It was Rose’s 16th career worldwide win as a pro
- Rose has now won in nine different countries
- It was Rose’s first win worldwide since the 2015 Hong Kong Open
- Rose should go up to ninth in the world rankings
- He is now 7-for-20 converting 54-hole leads and co-leads
- Rose led the field in strokes gained tee to green and in greens in regulation (77.8 percent)