Saturday, February 24, 2018
Golf

Justin Rose hopes hot hand pays off at Transitions

PALM HARBOR — The way Justin Rose sees it, he's entering the prime of his career.

"If you look at the course of history, a lot of players do their best between 30 and 40," said Rose, 31. "If I was ever going to do anything great in the game, it is going to be between that time period."

Rose hasn't elevated himself to great yet, but he has risen to the "pretty darn good" category. After carrying the dreaded label of being one of the best players to not win a tournament, Rose broke through by winning the 2010 Memorial.

Since then, he was won three more times, including last week at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Doral. A week earlier, he tied for fifth at the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens.

Last year at the Transitions Championship, Rose held the third-round lead before finishing in a tie for fifth. In his past five starts on the Copperhead course, Rose has finished in the top 25. If there was ever a favorite in this year's wide-open field, it would have to be Rose.

"Everything is in order," he said. "Maybe not everything shows up on the same day, and when it does, it's the day you go low. But some days I rely on my putting, other days I rely on my short game, other days I rely on hitting the ball really well. Everything is there, and it's just a matter of using them every time I play."

Lately, Rose has played a lot.

He is scheduled to play in every Florida tournament, including the team exhibition Tavistock Cup on Monday and Tuesday at Lake Nona near Orlando. Starting Wednesday, he said he will be playing golf for 12 straight days. And going back to the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles, Rose will play in six consecutive tournaments before taking a week off and then playing the Masters.

"I know it's a lot of golf, but I just felt like something good was going to happen," he said. "I've had a long offseason, so I felt it was time to … put in some work."

Rose is certainly not the only player in the field with a good chance to win. Luke Donald is the world's No. 2-ranked golfer. Webb Simpson finished second here last year, although he is battling a case of food poisoning. Sean O'Hair, Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh and Carl Pettersson are past champions. Gary Woodland won here last year. And Retief Goosen and K.J. Choi have won twice at Innisbrook.

"The course is in great shape, and the weather is calm," Donald said. "If it stays like this, there's going to be some low scoring."

That would suit Rose just fine. Out of 16 official PGA Tour rounds played this year, only two have been over par. His worst round this season was 73 on the final day of the Farmers Insurance Open in January.

He is coming off a 16-under finish at Doral that included 8-under 64 in the second round. Rose, who is from England, is seventh in the world rankings and eighth in Fed Ex Cup points.

Now in his 14th year as a pro, Rose said he is hitting his stride.

"It's just a matter of finally putting all the things I've learned into practice," he said. "I've got a good team around me. I've gotten to a point in my life where I'm comfortable off and on the golf course. Those are all factors into playing well."

Rose still has things to add to his resume. He has yet to win a major. He has not won a Fed Ex Cup title or the Race for Dubai, PGA Europe's equivalent to the Fed Ex Cup. Until he does, Rose knows there is work to do.

"It's been a nice run, but I've got to keep working hard," he said. "This game has taught me to stay humble. You never know what's around the corner."

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