By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- As is tradition at the PGA Championship, the winners of the three previous majors are paired together in the first two rounds at Oak Hill this week.
For U.S. Open champ Justin Rose, the draw is particularly enjoyable. Masters champion Adam Scott one of his best friends while Phil Mickelson, who Rose relegated to a sixth runner-up finish at Merion, certainly showed he still had some left in the tank at Muirfield a month later.
"Obviously Adam is a great friend of mine, and couldn't have been happier when he won the Masters, and to follow him as a major champion was sort of icing on the cake really," Rose said.
"Beating Phil at the U.S. Open, obviously with his record there, obviously I was delighted to win, but you have to feel for Phil in that situation, too. So I was also happy for him to win The Open Championship.
"And obviously Phil and I have had some good golf over the last eight or nine months if you include The Ryder Cup and had some nice head-to-head battles and had some fun out on the golf course. So for me, it's a really, really fun pairing the next couple of days."
Rose, who tees off with his two friends at 1:45 p.m. ET, says he was pleased by how quickly he came to grips with what he accomplished at Merion.
"I think the thing that sort of surprised me in a sense is how sort of calm I felt about being a major champion and how in a sense it's been like a quest since I was a young kid to get to this point, and it just suddenly felt like, ah, a little bit of a deep breath, a sigh of relief, and in a sense all the work has been worthwhile," Rose said.
"It's really been what my career has been about and what I've been trying to strive for, so it kind of felt calming in a sense, as well. Felt very comfortable as I sort of began to live with being a major champion and began to feel very comfortable with it, which I think will hopefully sort of bode well for the future."
That future is now as Rose sets his sights on turning a "fantastic year into an incredible one." And Rose says he's better prepared for the PGA than he was at Muirfield last month.
He enjoyed the congratulatory pats on the back, and he certainly loved talking about his signature victory. But the U.S. Open trophy Rose has been traveling with for nearly two months is now back in his Orlando home, and he's focused on the stretch run that lies ahead and includes both the season's final major and the FedExCup Playoffs.
"I think absolutely, at Muirfield, I wasn't ready with my body," Rose said. "I wasn't ready with my game. I came in there a bit deconditioned because I had missed some workouts and had done some traveling back home in the U.K., didn't quite have my normal facilities available to me that I normally have.
"I feel like I'm back to normal a little bit, I feel like I'm back to being disciplined, I feel like I'm back to being really in the present and motivated for the rest of the year."