Rose blooming, so let’s not rake over the coals
22:00 GMT, 22 October 2012
Did this column unwittingly play a small role in Justin Rose’s stirring ascent to the world’s top five Rose’s caddie Mark Fulcher wonders as much and comes up with a rather amusing anecdote as evidence.
Cast your mind back to December 2009 when, for a bit of fun, I decided to hand out Christmas gifts or coal to players who had been good or bad.
Regular readers will be well aware of my penchant for sitting on the fence on these matters, as illustrated by my somewhat lofty verdict on Rose’s season: ‘Biggest disappointment this year for me was Justin Rose.
That's better: Was Justin Rose motivated by this column
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He doesn’t normally follow a mediocre year with a lousy one but falling from 19th to 70th in the world speaks for itself. Once there were only a handful of players ahead of him. Now there are a handful of Englishmen.’
Poor Fulcher almost choked on his breakfast, and telephoned Rose with a plan. ‘Do you think Derek would take it in the right spirit if I had a lorry load of coal delivered to the Daily Mail’s office’ he asked. Actually, living 200 miles away, I’d have thought it hilarious.
Eighteen months on, Fulcher tells this story with a huge smile on his face. ‘I thought the piece was very unfair, if I’m honest, and I don’t know how much it motivated Justin but it certainly motivated me.
‘Now look at him. No-one has played better this season from tee to green and he is so close to finishing it off with his putting as well.’
Two weeks after that conversation, Rose began the run that justified his man’s faith, finishing runner-up in the Tour Championship in Atlanta, playing a starring role at the Ryder Cup, before winning the first Turkish Airlines World Golf Championship, beating Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood along the way.
Now he’s in China with Rory, Lee, Luke, Poults and the rest of the boys. It’s the start of what appears a month-long duel between Rose and Rory McIlroy to see who finishes the season as top dog on the European Tour.
No coal this year, then. But hey, if it helps, how can he possibly think that this is a great year when he hasn’t won three majors
Grand Larceny of Golf
The PGA Grand Slam of Golf begins in Bermuda on Tuesday but it might be better known as the Grand Larceny of Golf if Padraig Harrington walks off with the $600,000 first prize.
This is a 36-hole exhibition event designed for the four major winners each year — yet more gravy if you like.
Cheeky entry: Padraig Harrington is world No 54
Except this year the US PGA champion Rory McIlroy has a prior engagement in China (his place has been taken by Keegan Bradley), Open winner Ernie Els pulled up lame, first and second alternates Graeme McDowell and Tiger Woods made their excuses and flew to the Far East and well, gulp, they have somehow been left with the world No 54, Harrington.
The Irishman reckons winning would represent finished business, given he just lost out in 2007 and 2008 when he was a legitimate entrant.
A steal, I’d call it.
Quote of the week
‘It feels like I’m in a dream. I’m just waiting for somebody to slap me or pinch me or do something to wake me up.’
Ten years ago Tommy Gainey was working in a factory wrapping insulation on water heaters earning $8 an hour. On Sunday, the 37-year-old from South Carolina with the homegrown swing won $700,000 and claimed his first US Tour title in his home-town state beating, among others, Davis Love, his idol growing up. The American Dream We’ve just witnessed another heartwarming example.
Dream: Tommy Gainey (right) has had a dramatic change in fortunes
Furyk comes up short yet again
One of the abiding images of this season is going to be Jim Furyk with his hands on his knees. He struck that disconsolate pose at the US Open, the Bridgestone Invitational, the Ryder Cup and again on Sunday at the McGladrey Classic in Georgia.
All four events came down to how Furyk played the 18th hole and in all four instances he came up woefully short. Four pars and he would have been in an 18-hole play-off for a major, a winner of a World Championship event and an American hero at Medinah. Instead, one of the gentlemen of the game ended up with nothing.
Have we ever seen such a litany of final-hole failure from one player in the same season before — particularly one with a reputation as a hardened competitor who gets the job done Gamely, Furyk gave his season a B-plus rating, which would be fair enough if golf were a 17-hole sport. But it won’t feel like a B-plus year when he wakes up screaming in the middle of the night.