A thorny issue for Rose
Major championships are intended to bring together the best golfers from all over the world for eagerly anticipated summit meetings four times a year. Consequently the lists of "exemptions" are lengthy, detailed and well thought out to ensure that no big fish slips through the net. What a pity then that the entry regulations for next week's US Open did not have an escape clause to cater for the situation Justin Rose found himself in less than 24 hours after sampling a maiden victory on the PGA Tour in the Memorial Tournament in Ohio.
No sooner had the Englishman completed what, in the circumstances, was possibly the best round of his professional career - a bogey-free 66 at Muirfield Village to turn a four-stroke deficit into a winning margin of three - he was obliged to switch his attention to having to qualify for the Pebble Beach showpiece, in Columbus. Blooming on Sunday, Rose wilted on Monday and fell three shots short of the score he required to earn one of the 156 places in the Open draw.
The failure of Rose to reproduce his title-winning form so soon after victory at Muirfield Village left Europe's 2007 Order of Merit winner with a blank date in his diary. It leaves the Open line-up poorer for his absence. However, Simon Khan, of England, gets to play in the US Open. The Essex golfer comes in as first reserve as Rose needed to have won at least one other PGA Tour event in the past year to be given an exemption.
Ironically, the US$1.08 million (Dh3.9m) Rose earned for capturing the most prestigious of his eight career titles took him comfortably into the world's top 50 who are granted automatic entry into the majors. Unfortunately his leap into 33rd position came a fortnight too late. At least there should be no worries now for Rose about his eligibility for the British Open at St Andrews in Scotland. His massive boost in seasonal earnings has made him a virtual certainty for that and the concluding major of the year - the US PGA championship at Whistling Straits in August.
It is good to see Rose back among the big boys after a worrying two-year spell in the wilderness that resulted in a steady decline from a career-high world ranking of six and a concern to whether he would be able to arrest that slide. Exploding into the professional ranks after producing a memorable performance as a 17-year-old amateur to tie for fourth place in the 1998 British Open at Royal Birkdale, Rose has fallen short of expectations.
Few thought he would have to wait as long to break his PGA duck, especially after he made an early mark in Europe with victories in the 2002 Dunhill Championship and British Masters. His Memorial win makes him the third United Kingdom player to triumph in the United States this year - Ian Poulter having won the Accenture World Matchplay championship and Rory McIlroy the Quail Hollow title. Rose's belated success also comes a week after Luke Donald, another Englishman who plays much of his golf against the Americans, broke a four-year barren spell by winning the Madrid Masters a week after finishing a close second in the European PGA Championship.
All of which bodes well for Europe's prospects of winning back the Ryder Cup from Corey Pavin's US team at Celtic Manor in October. Several members of Europe's likely line-up for that clash enjoyed a strokeplay rehearsal for that matchplay showpiece last weekend at the Welsh venue and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell sent out a significant message to Colin Montgomerie, the European captain. When the pressure was at its most intense over the weekend on the Twenty Ten course, McDowell posted closing rounds of 64 and 63 to romp past the German pacemaker Marcel Siem and claim the ?350,000 (Dh1.53m) prize.
It lifted him to 12th behind Poulter in the Race to Dubai and also enhanced his prospects of claiming a Ryder Cup place, if not automatically then through one of Montgomerie's three wild-card selections on a "horses for courses" basis. Montgomerie, meanwhile had his own cause for celebration on Monday as he regrouped after his shared 46th place in the Wales Open to shoot a brilliant 62 at Sunningdale to secure qualification for next month's British Open.
It was a determined effort by the 46-year-old to extend his unbroken appearance record in the event to 21 years. The lure of returning to what he regards as the "special place" of St Andrews spurred him on. It is appropriate, in his Ryder Cup captaincy year, that he is in the line-up. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: June 10, 2010 04:00 AM