Hero World Challenge: Relentless Justin Rose searching for ‘the next gear’

Justin Rose hopes to step up a gear for “some more wins,” after what has been a consistent season. Defending champion Rickie Fowler, on the other hand, admits it has been a season where he “just never got the job done.”

Clinical, consistent: In the last 13 events, Justin Rose has 10 top-10 finishes.   -  AP

When it comes to consistency in world golf, Justin Rose ranks up there.

Although replaced as the World No. 1 earlier this week by Brooks Keopka, Rose has stayed in the top-six rankings following that sensational victory in the WGC-HSBC Champions in October last.

Given his form in the last 13 events, between winning the Fort Worth Memorial and the recent Turkish Open, Rose has an incredible nine other top-10 finishes. No wonder, he topped the PGA season-ending FedExCup rankings, ahead of Tiger Woods.

‘Enjoying my golf’

“My consistency has been fantastic, but if I can just bring the next gear or the next level more consistently, that’s going to translate to some more wins. Yes. I feel good. I’m really enjoying my golf and I think that’s the most important thing as well,” said the reigning Olympic champion.

Read | Hero World Challenge: Tiger in the hunt, Rose favourite

Rose, the ranking-favourite here in the USD 3.5 million Hero World Challenge, continued, “Form comes and goes a little bit, but inherently, I think that when I’m playing my best golf, I can win any tournament at any time. So it’s just a matter of me trying to control the variables, do all the right work, that I bring my best game as often as I can.”

Off-course distraction

About playing here, the 2013 US Open champion and a local resident said, “Playing at home is an interesting feeling for me personally. I’m not sure it’s an advantage really because there’s the off-course distraction that’s so different to your normal routine on Tour. Greens are super fast and obviously there’s always a challenge with the wind here. The ocean breeze makes it tricky and demanding.”

Rickie Fowler: "[I] need to win again and get things turned around." Photo: AP

 

Unlike for Rose, the last season for defending champion Rickie Fowler was the one where he “just never got the job done.”

On the brighter side, in the last edition here, Fowler was trailing by seven strokes after three rounds. In the fourth round, he fired birdies on the first seven holes, for a course-record of 61, to win by four shots. Recalling the memorable finish, Fowler said, “Last year was a real nice way to end it, being 7 back and birding the first seven holes, put myself back in a position to go and win.”

“Unfortunately, I haven’t won since then, so [I] need to win again and get things turned around,” added this year’s Masters’ runner-up, ending with a touch of disappointment.

‘Nice to be back’

Again, unlike Rose, Fowler has done very well here in all three previous appearances. Before winning last year, he finished tied-third in 2016 and was third in 2015. “Yes, [it's] always nice to be back. This is an event that you want to be a part of. That means you’ve done something right or consistently done things right to be inside of, I think it kind of goes around to the maybe low 20s in world ranking. It’s just a nice group to be a part of. Small field and nice way to, kind of, end the calendar year,” said Fowler, the man still searching for his first major.