Justin Rose is known as a terrific ballstriker, especially with his long irons. (Hallowell/Getty Images)
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, PGA TOUR Academy
The similarities between Ben Hogan’s famous 1-iron and Justin Rose’s 4-iron on the 72nd hole of yesterday’s U.S. Open are striking. Both players needed to make par on the very difficult 18th hole at Merion — Hogan to force a playoff in the 1950 U.S. Open, which he’d go on to win, and Rose to hold onto a slim one-shot advantage.
And both players faced long approach shots — Hogan from 213 yards, and Rose from 229. Neither player flinched, as Hogan hit his approach to 40 feet and two-putted for his par, while Rose threw a dart at the flag that ran through the green and left him with a fairly simple up-and-down for his first major championship title.
Hogan was considered the best ballstriker of his time. He was fond of finding it in the dirt. And Rose is earning quite a reputation as a ballstriker as well. When he absolutely needed to find the short grass on No. 18 yesterday, he split the middle of the fairway. Then, under tremendous pressure, he delivered the shot of his life into the 18th green. Not a single player made birdie on the 18th hole this weekend at Merion, and Rose’s third shot came within inches of dropping in the hole for a 3.
For the week, Rose tied for first in par-4 birdies (10), was second in fairways hit (75 percent), and tied for seventh in greens in regulation (69.44 percent). It should probably come as no surprise that Rose hit those two clutch shots on 18, since he leads the PGA TOUR in both total driving and GIR percentage from 200+ yards (60.42 percent) this season. He’s also sixth in GIR (69.81 percent) and third in ball striking, a combination of GIR and total driving.
What makes Rose such an exceptional ball-striker, especially with his longer irons, is his ability to differentiate his upper and lower body at impact. He’s able to shift his weight into his lead foot, which moves the low point of his swing forward, to the ball, and he maintains his side tilt away from the ball. This is essential to hitting green-hugging long irons because it allows you to stay behind the ball and utilize the true loft on the clubface, so the ball launches higher and lands softer.
The most common mistake that amateurs make with their longer clubs is that when they shift their weight left on the downswing, their upper body goes with it. There’s no differentiation between the upper and lower body, and they typically come over-the-top of the ball and hit it to the right, or mishit it off the toe, which shoots it low and to the left.
On the flip side, if they try to stay behind the ball with their upper body, their weight stays on their back foot and they hit behind it. With no differentiation, they may still hit their short irons okay (because of the loft), but they’ll launch their longer irons, hybrids, and fairway woods too low. Here are two drills to help you create this differentiation and improve your ball striking.
DRILL 1: PRE-SET IMPACT
Take your setup with a 5-iron or hybrid and, from there, assume a good impact position. Move your weight into your lead foot and open your hips, but keep your spine tilted to the right, behind the ball, as it was at address. You should feel a good stretch between your upper and lower body, and your shoulders should be closed relative to your hips. Hold this position for a second or two, and then return to your address position and swing, trying to recreate the differentiation you felt between your upper and lower body at impact.
DRILL 2: USE THE GROUND
Place a towel or sponge (something that offers a little resistance) under your lead foot, and as you swing down, feel as if you’re applying pressure from the left foot into the ground, through that towel. This drill will teach you to shift your weight forward, so that the clubhead doesn’t bottom out too soon and you hit the ball solidly, with the club’s full loft. If you watch Rose’s practice swings, you can see him rehearsing this move.
He swings the club to the top, and then very deliberately transfers his weight forward, applying pressure into the ground with his left foot. From there he uses his left foot as leverage to turns through and complete his swing. Copy this move and your ballstriking should improve as well.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, click here.
Justin Rose conquered Merion on Sunday in the Philadelphia suburbs. Now he's taking the Big Apple by storm. Rose will do the U.S. Open champion's media tour Tuesday in New York City. He'll make stops at MSNBC's "Morning Joe," SiriusXM Radio, CNBC's "Squak on the Stree," and will cap the trip by reading the Top Ten List on the Late Show with David Letterman on Tuesday, June 18 at 11:35 p.m. on CBS.
Rose, 32, won his first major title on Sunday at Merion and will be making the New York media rounds before heading to Hartford for this week's Travelers Championship.
Justin Rose and his wife, Kate, pose with the U.S. Open trophy and a number of newspapers recapping Rose's first major championship title. Got a Justin Rose headline of your own or a caption for this image? Leave it in our comments below and, as always, keep it clean.
Justin Rose's upbeat attitude helped him at Merion Golf Club. (Redington/Getty Images)
By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
It was not lost on Justin Rose that the final round of the U.S. Open was played on Father’s Day. Rose was 21 when his father passed away. Rose said poignantly, “A lot of us come from great men and we have that responsibility to our children to show what a great man can be”. Furthermore, Rose stated that his goal was to carry himself proudly regardless of what happened during the final round. Acting with pride and a deep sense of responsibility helped Rose to be confident and stay mentally focused to win the U.S. Open.
Our actions can greatly affect our emotions. According to Self-Perception Theory, we infer our emotions from our actions. Our brain gets the message how to feel. When we smile, we infer that we are happy because we are smiling. Even faking a smile will make us happier. When we act prideful, we will feel proud about confident about ourselves and our golf game.
This same principle can have a huge impact on your confidence level. One of the best ways to become more confident is by simply acting confident. Walking off the green with shoulders slumped and head down after missing an easy putt makes a golfer feel less confident during subsequent holes. On the other hand, a golfer fresh off a double bogey can maintain his confidence by keeping his chip up, literally.
If you want to feel more proud about your game, then act with pride like Rose did at Merion. If you want more confidence, strut your stuff all the time, no matter what. If you want to have more fun, just keep smiling!
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the TOUR” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players as well as top collegiate and junior golfer. Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at drgreggsteinberg.com.
Ernie Els fired a Sunday 69 to finish tied for fourth at Merion. (Cannon/Getty Images)
Editor’s note: Ernie Els is writing a blog for PGATOUR.COM in 2013 and this is his latest installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.ernieels.com
Any time you have an opportunity to win a major championship and don’t manage to pull it off there is inevitably a sense of disappointment, but at the same time you have to try to balance it out with the obvious positives. To play well and to compete on a tough, tough track such as Merion, your game has to be in good shape. So that’s what I’ll take away from this year’s U.S. Open. My game is now right where it needs to be in order to win tournaments.
Like a lot of players, I loved the idea of the U.S. Open coming to Merion, such a wonderful and historic venue. Even though we had a lot of rain at the start of the week, it was always going to be a tough test in a U.S. Open style set-up. The fact that no one finished under par for the week pretty much says everything.
I got off to a decent start, but we’d had a delayed finish and when I came back the next morning it was really blowing out there, probably a two-club wind. It was also raining. At that moment it felt more like the Open Championship! You throw in deep rough and the length of some of those holes on the back nine…it was tough. To come in with a 71 was a decent result and a 72 in round two was okay, too. By then it was obvious no one was going to run away with this thing.
The weekend was a real battle for everyone. The rough was as penal as any of us has probably ever seen in the U.S. Open, so if you missed a fairway or a green you were penalized in a big way, and the greens were tricky. And this is the U.S. Open – that’s going to get the nerves going. We checked last night and there were only a dozen scores in the 60s out of 146 rounds of golf.
One of them was the 69 that I shot in the final round on Sunday, which got me in the clubhouse at 5-over par. To be honest, that always looked like it might be two or three shots too many. When you get that close you can’t help but maybe look at a few moments, the odd shot here or there, where it could have been better. But reflecting now on the week as a whole, I have to be satisfied with my game. It was close to being a very special week, but as it is it’s just a good, solid week and another major top-10 to add to the career tally.
Justin did a great job, though, and was very solid down that tough closing stretch. He’s a good guy and he deserves this win. I’m pleased for him.
We flew out of Philadelphia on Sunday night, arrived in London on Monday, and then fly to Munich on Tuesday for this week’s BMW International Open. This is the 25-year anniversary of this event – I’ve played it a handful of times, with a couple of top-10s – and they have assembled a strong field for the occasion. I send my congratulations to everyone involved.
BMW has been a great supporter of the game of golf and they always run a great tournament. I’ve played in more BMW events than I can remember (and owned plenty of its cars!) and I have many happy memories, not only in Germany but also in BMW tournaments all around the world.
Actually, we have BMW to thank for the biggest winning margin of my career – 13 shots – in the BMW Asian Open in Shanghai in 2005. It would be nice to repeat that again some time, but I’ll be satisfied if I can follow-on from last week’s U.S. Open and play some good golf. It’s not always easy straight after the physical and mental exertions of a major championship, especially on such a demanding golf course like Merion, but I’ll be giving it my best shot.
That’s it for now. Don’t forget you can now follow me on Twitter @thebig_easy
Phil Mickelson is now a six-time U.S. Open runner-up. (Halleran/Getty Images)
By: Fred Albers, PGA TOUR.COM Correspondent
It’s funny how the little things add up to determine a winner. Justin Rose had a pair of putts just topple into the cup on the front nine. He also got some bad fortune on the 14th hole. It was raining just hard enough to put on a rain suit. Rose looked uncomfortable with the jacket as he played a bunker shot and semi-shanked the ball out of the sand leading to bogey. His approach into the 15th was within a foot of funneling toward the cup; instead it caught a slope and spun to the front of the green. Every player in the field had similar occurrences over the course of 72 holes. The key is to give yourself the opportunity for good luck to occur. Rose withstood the bad breaks and took advantage of the good fortune leading to victory.
Merion: I don’t know if anyone, at the start of the week, truly understood just how difficult it’s become to stage the U.S. Open at Merion. People shared their homes to accommodate the championship. The players’ lounge was in somebody’s living room. The driving range was a half hour drive through traffic. People gave up their back yards so interviews could be conducted and their front yards to parking. Was it worth it? Will the U.S. Open return to Merion? That will be a discussion for USGA executives. The club would like to host the 2030 U.S. Open in observance of Bobby Jones grand slam.
Flagsticks: The wicker baskets took some getting used to this week. Players are accustomed to looking at the flags to determine wind direction and intensity. That wasn’t an option this week. There were some holes with grandstands that had flags attached and competitors were grateful for those opportunities. The wicker baskets were just one of the slight changes that took players out of their comfort zone.
Tiger’s woes: All you need to know about Tiger Woods’ U.S. Open is inconsistency. His scorecard shows 21 holes of bogey or higher. Yes, 21 holes. That’s bogey or higher 29 percent of the time. Was that inconsistency due to mechanics or injury? Tiger gives little personal injury information. Maybe he figures it’s bad form to make excuses or maybe he doesn’t want fellow competitors to acquire any insight. What we do know for certain is Tiger struggled with the speed of the greens for the second straight tournament. He never got the pace of his putts correct at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance and did not this week either.
Set-up: This week was a return to yesteryear for the U. S. Open. Players had become accustomed to Executive Director Mike Davis’ “graduated rough.” That was not the case this week. Golf balls that missed the fairway by a yard were buried deep in the grass. What did players think of the setup? Zach Johnson was very critical, Phil Mickelson called it “the best setup to an Open course he’d ever seen.” The penal set up was thought necessary to offset a lack of length at Merion.
Runner-up: Phil Mickelson is the most creative player on the PGA TOUR. His mind sees shots nobody else can. That creativity allowed him to hole out a 76-yard wedge from the rough. Mickelson arrived at the U.S. Open with a fifth wedge and without a driver. He also may be the most aggressive player in golf. Mickelson sailed a wedge over the green at the 126-yard 13th, leading to bogey. He has a record six U.S. Open runner-up finishes. Maybe he is too aggressive to win the U.S. Open, or maybe he is just star-crossed when it comes to our national championship. Shakespeare wrote the fault “lies not in the stars but in ourselves.” Mickelson hit 15 greens in the final round but made just one birdie putt.
Bogeys: Raymond Floyd once said there are more bogeys made in the final round of the U.S. Open than any tournament on earth. The final round was filled with strange shots. Steve Stricker shanked a ball. Luke Donald hit a volunteer in the head with a wayward shot and played the next four holes in 5 over. Phil Mickelson did not make a double bogey all week and had two of them in a three-hole stretch. The combination of a difficult golf course and pressure led to unlikely results.
Winner, winner: On Wednesday I wrote:
“I like Justin Rose. His combination of length and accuracy means lots of wedges into greens and Rose ranks second on TOUR in approaches between 50-125 yards, hitting it an average distance of 14 feet 3 inches.
“Keep Calm and Carry On. Justin Rose wins the U.S. Open.”
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Just as Justin Rose said he was inspired by Adam Scott's win at the Masters, Luke Donald says he can draw motivation from both his friends.
He played with Rose on Sunday at Merion and watched as he became the first Englishman to win the U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970. Donald, who spent more than a year as the world's No. 1 player, shot a 75 but ended up tied for eighth -- his first top-10 finish ever in the season's second major.
"I come away with some positive feelings," Donald said. "I got in position in a U.S. Open. I haven't really done that in my career. So there's definitely positives. I know what I need to work on. I need to continue to get better in my ball-striking and control that trajectory and that line.
"I think Adam and Justin have similar games. They're very good tee to green. Occasionally their Achilles heel is the short game and the putting. Sometimes great ball striking can trump that, even at a U.S. Open."
Donald, who closed with a 33, got off to an extremely slow start on Sunday with a string of four straight bogeys. The streak started at the third hole where he pulled a driver and ended up hitting one of the people working the scoreboard in the elbow.
"And she was in some pain and felt a little bit faint, and I felt a little bit faint, too, watching it," Donald said. "Unfortunately you never like that to happen, and it was a very tough break for her."
Donald, who gave the woman a signed glove, wouldn't go so far as to say the accident contributed to the next three bogeys, though.
"I felt pretty bad at the time," he said. "But it was business as usual in the fourth. Obviously I played that stretch pretty poorly. But I don't really use that as an excuse."
Justin Rose won his first major title on Sunday (Kinnaird/Getty Images)
From staff and wire reports
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Justin Rose became the first Englishman in 43 years to win the U.S. Open, claiming a two-stroke win over Phil Mickelson and Jason Day on Sunday at Merion Golf Club.
It's Rose's first major win and fifth PGA TOUR win of his career. He was playing in his 37th major.
Rose finished at 1 over for the tournament, as no player matched par at 6,996-yard Merion. He shot an even-par 70 that included five birdies and five bogeys. He was the only player in the final 10 groups to avoid shooting a round over par.
His tee shot at the final hole split the fairway, landing close to the Ben Hogan plaque that recognizes his 1-iron shot during his 1950 win.
When he saw the proximity of the ball to the plaque, Rose said, "I thought this is my moment."
Mickelson, the 54-hole leader who was celebrating his 43rd birthday Sunday, finished runner-up for a sixth time at the U.S. Open.
"Very heartbreaking," Mickelson said. "... This is probably the toughest for me."
The last Englishman to win the U.S. Open was Tony Jacklin in 1970. The win also gives England its first major champ since Nick Faldo at the 1996 Masters.
It's the second major this year in which a drought has been broken. In April, Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters.
After the Masters, Scott sent Rose a text, writing, "Your time's coming soon."
Said Rose: "He's a wise man."
Mickelson, in shooting a 4-over 74 to finish at 3 over, suffered two early double bogeys but holed out for eagle at the 10th hole to get back in it. But he suffered a bogey at the par-3 13th, one of the easier holes this week, and another bogey at the 15th. Usually deadly with a wedge in hand, Mickelson acknowledged hitting two poor wedge shots to set up those bogeys.
"Two costly shots," he said.
Day shot a 1-over 71 but bogeyed the 18th hole. It's his second runner-up finish at the U.S. Open in the last three years. He's also been in contention at the Masters in recent years.
"As long as I keep knocking on the door," Day said, "I think I'll win a major here soon."
Jason Dufner, Ernie Els, Hunter Mahan, and Billy Horchel tied for fourth at 5 over.
The 32-year-old Rose overcame his share of misadventures on a course that challenged all comers despite being the shortest at a major in nine years. He took the sole lead for good because of others' mistakes at No. 15: Mickelson and Hunter Mahan, playing in the final group, both lost shots on the hole to fall out of a tie for first.
Rose's last shot was a tap-in for par at the 18th, after his caddie removed the pin with the wicker basket on top, the symbol of Merion that replaces the familiar flag. He had chipped it there from the rough just behind the green, nearly becoming the only player to birdie the finishing hole over the final two rounds of the championship.
The day appeared to set up well for Mickelson to finally win his first U.S. Open. It was his 43rd birthday, it was Father's Day in the United States, and it was the first time he had held a sole 54-hole lead at the event. He made eagle from the rough at the 10th hole to retake the lead.
He was in a three-way tie with Rose and Mahan when his approach rolled back down the fairway at 15. He chipped well past the hole and two-putted for bogey.
Mahan was the steadiest player on the course, with 13 pars in his first 14 holes, until his tee shot found the rough at 15. He hit into more rough before 3-putting for double bogey.
Luke Donald also started the round just one shot to make up, but he hit a volunteer with a tee shot on No. 3 and on No. 4, took off his left shoe and sock to play his ball next to Cobbs Creek. He shot a 75 and finished tied for eighth
Charl Schwartzel went briefly under par, then went the other way with a streak of bogeys that led to a 78.
Mickelson was the overnight leader at 1-under, but he was scrambling from the start. His tee shot at the first landed in the rough, but he nearly birdied the hole when his 30-footer lipped out. He was in the sand at No. 2 yet missed a short putt for birdie. He finally paid the price for his waywardness when he put one in a bunker at the par-3 No. 3 and then 3-putted for a 5 that left no one under par for the tournament.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- As anyone who plays golf knows, and Steve Stricker was quick to point out late Sunday evening, the game of golf can "put you in your place rather quickly at times."
And Stricker's time came on the second hole Sunday as he hit his drive out of bounds, caught his third on the hosel and sent it there, too, on the way to a triple bogey that all but assured he wouldn't win the U.S. Open.
The 46-year-old had started the final round one shot off the lead but trailed by four when he stepped to the third green. He ended up shooting 41 on the front nine and 76 for 18, finishing in a tie for sixth at 6 over.
"But still a good week," Stricker said. "I competed well this week. I did a lot of good things. Surely not what I was looking for today, but still things I can build on and work towards when I play next at the John Deere (Classic)."
Stricker has cut back his schedule dramatically this year to spend more time with his family. He likely will only play 11 times, and he says he's benefitted by not as caught up in the ebb and flow of the game.
"I'm way easier on myself," he said. "I'm not over this yet, but it won't take me long to get over this. Golf is not the thing in my life as it once was. That was the reason why I scaled back. ...
"So it's kind of taken a back seat. I'm fine with that. I'm good with that. Sure, I'm disappointed I didn't play better today and have a chance to win, but, like I say, it's secondary in my life now, or even further back."
Stricker said he felt more comfortable on Sunday at Merion than he'd ever felt contending for a major.
"So that's a good sign," he said. "I'm running out of years, though, I think. It's not getting any easier as I get older. But at least ... the feelings that I have out there are that of calmness, I guess, and trusting my ability."
Even so, don't expect Stricker to travel to the UK next month.
"No, I think I missed the deadline to send in my entry for the British," he said. "So I won't be going over there."