Rose wins Fort Worth Invitational in Hogan-esque fashion
May 27, 2018
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Justin Rose wins by three strokes at Fort Worth
FORT WORTH, Texas – One name stood out to Justin Rose when he hoisted the 4-foot-tall Leonard Trophy that’s awarded to the winner of the Fort Worth Invitational.
“I saw Ben Hogan’s name twice,” Rose said. “It sort of says a lot. … I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Hogan’s presence is still strong at Colonial, more than two decades after his passing. A 7-foot statue of the man many consider the greatest ballstriker of all time still overlooks the course. He would’ve been proud of Rose’s performance this week.
Rose won in truly Hogan-esque fashion, exhibiting exquisite ball control throughout the week. He hit 57 greens, including 30 of his first 33, to lead the field in that statistic. He also led in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green (+10.24) and was second in proximity to the hole (25 feet, 2 inches).
He had a birdie putt of 20 feet or shorter on 45 of the 72 holes (62.5 percent).
Rose called it one of the best ballstriking performances of his career. He beat Brooks Koepka by three shots after shooting 20-under 260 (66-64-66-64), one off the tournament record. Rose’s bogey on the last hole, when the tournament was already in hand, was just his fifth of the week.
“The way I won I think is very fitting for a place that’s called Hogan’s Alley,” Rose said. “I couldn’t have dreamt a better way really.
“If I begin to look at the courses I’ve won at, this definitely strengthens that group even more. I’m very happy my game has turned up and I’ve been inspired by some of these great venues.”
Rose has shown a knack for playing well on historic venues. He’s also won at Merion, Aronimink, Muirfield Village, Congressional, Royal Aberdeen and Valderrama. And he was the game’s first Olympic gold medalist in more than a century.
Now he’s in good position to succeed at another course with strong ties to one of the game’s legends, Bobby Jones. Rose is second in the FedExCup after becoming the fifth player to win twice this season.
“When you’re in that rarified air in the FedExCup, you start to think about positioning yourself in the Top 5 for East Lake,” Rose said. “We all know that’s a big, big deal. It’s a golf course I have played well at in the past.”
Few courses on TOUR can match Colonial’s legacy, though.
The Fort Worth Invitational, which dates back to 1946, is the longest-running PGA TOUR event played on the same course. It’s the 10th-oldest event on TOUR, too.
Hogan won the first two TOUR events held at the course Marvin Leonard created to bring slicker bentgrass greens to an area dominated by Bermudagrass putting surfaces. Hogan also went back-to-back in 1952 and ’53, the latter victory coming in the midst of his historic Triple Crown season. The last of his 64 PGA TOUR victories came at Colonial.
Of the handful of courses that are known as “Hogan’s Alley,” none may be more deserving than Colonial. Leonard met Hogan while Hogan was caddying across town at Glen Garden Golf Club. He became a mentor and a friend to the teenager who’d lost his father at a young age. Leonard helped Hogan get his playing career and equipment company off the ground. Colonial still honors him today with the Hogan Room, a small museum inside the clubhouse, and a re-creation of his office.
Among the items in the Hogan Room is a red wicker basket, one of the trademark flagsticks from Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. It’s a course where both Hogan and Rose won the U.S. Open.
Hogan won the 1950 U.S. Open less than 18 months after surviving a head-on collision with a Greyhound bus. His victory produced one of the game’s iconic images: Hy Peskin’s photograph of Hogan hitting a 1-iron into Merion’s 18th green. Rose won at Merion five years ago; his caddie, Mark Fulcher, has the red basket in his office. Fulcher said he was watching “a master of his trade in control” at Colonial.
Rose’s win at Colonial linked with another World Golf Hall of Famer. The Fort Worth Invitational was Rose’s ninth on the PGA TOUR, matching Nick Faldo for the most by an Englishman. Rose’s consistent ball-striking reminded Faldo of his own precise iron play that led to six major championships.
“You have so many stats in this game, but the real bottom line is proximity to the hole,” Faldo said. “That’s the ultimate goal for everybody. We’re trying to hit great shots as consistently as we can.
“Justin works hard on the science of the game to give him a feel he can trust because the numbers stack up. That was my style, as well.”
In the days leading up to Colonial, the swing changes that Rose and longtime instructor Sean Foley have been working on for the past year started to click. Rose ended last year with 10 consecutive top-10s and had three more in his first five starts of 2018. He struggled at the Houston Open and in the first three rounds of THE PLAYERS, though.
Then he shot a final-round 66 at TPC Sawgrass, which included seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch. A week of practice with Foley in Orlando further engrained the changes.
Rose, 37, moved to No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking after his 20th worldwide win. The average age of the other players in the top 10? Twenty-seven years old. Rose is the oldest in the top 10 by four years. Foley credits a tenacity that Hogan, who was known as “The Hawk” and the “Wee Ice Mon” because of his steely nature, would admire.
Rose and Foley were among the early adopters of TrackMan, sometimes drawing criticism for their analytical approach. Rose is still looking for new ways to improve, even as he nears 40 in what is rapidly becoming a young man’s game.
“From how he eats, to how he trains, to how he breaks down a golf course, he has a very thoughtful approach to maximizing his probability for success,” Foley said. “Sometimes people are afraid to change what they do or how they do it. His lack of satisfaction in what he’s doing has really pushed us to look under every rock.”
Embracing the future has helped him succeed on golf’s historic grounds.
Justin Rose's Round 4 highlights from Fort Worth