Justin Rose on why defending titles is so hard in golf
Justin Rose tees off at this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge as the defending champion, but he knows that doesn’t necessarily give him an edge over the rest of the field.
Rose saw off the challenge of man of the hour Brooks Koepka at Colonial Country Club last year, delivering an impressive performance to finish three strokes clear of the current World No 1.
“It was a special week for me last year,” said Rose, who finished with a 20-under-par total. “I played some of probably my best golf – certainly on the PGA Tour – that I can remember.
“I have my name now on the wall on the first tee. It’s an honour because there are so many great names on that wall and I saw it today for the first time. That was a cool moment.”
Nevertheless, while he is optimistic about his chances of defending his title, he knows it will be far from an easy task.
Aside from the fact that Ben Hogan is still the only golfer in the history of the tournament to win it back to back, Rose admits the competitive nature of golf and the large number of competitors in every field makes defending a title a much harder prospect than it is in most sports.
“It shouldn’t be harder to win at the same venue,” he said. “Some major championships you win and the following year you’re not even back at the same venue, so there should be a greater chance of winning somewhere where you have already won.
“From that point of view I’d probably say the odds are better than just if it was any other week where I haven’t won before, but it’s tough to beat 120 or 156 guys – whatever is in the field – every week on the PGA Tour.”
Rose didn’t have the best of weeks at the PGA Championship, finishing in tied-29th place on five over par, but feels there is a lot for him to build on going into Colonial.
“I haven’t historically played much after a major championship,” he said.
“Last week I rolled into that major a little bit more like it was a regular event, I didn’t go the weekend before and really try and grind out the course because it’s a course I know pretty well anyway.
“I felt pretty fresh last week and because of how I prepared for the PGA, I’m think I’m now going to be able to go nicely through the next two weeks, because I’m playing next week at the Memorial as well.
“I feel like there’s good energy. If you can pick to peak at a major championship you’re going to do that every time, but I feel like this is a three-week run of golf and hopefully I will find my best at some point in this run.”
Rose is one of the afternoon starters and will tee off alongside fellow European Ryder Cup star Francesco Molinari and American Brandt Snedeker at Colonial on Thursday.
This year’s winner will also receive one of the coolest first prizes in sports – a fully restored 1973 Dodge Challenger.
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