Justin Rose took to the 10th tee at the ACCIONA Open de España presented by Madrid intent on banishing the memories of a disappointing Thursday, and he could not have got off to a better start. One hole, one birdie, quite a statement of intent. Yesterday he was frustrated by the number of birdie putts he saw slide by the hole. “I missed nine putts inside 10 feet”. Looking at his 15th, 16th and 17th holes today, it is clear that the Englishman is yet to unlock the secrets of Club de Campo’s greens. On the 16thhe stayed on the green with his caddie for some time after missing a short birdie opportunity. From his body language it was clear he was struggling to read this week’s deceptive putting surfaces.
He frequently found the rough from the tee, the putts continued to shave the hole, and Rose’s desperation mounted. However, on the 12th the Englishman showed why he is an ex-world number one with a major to his name. From thick, tall and wet rough, he managed to dramatically hook his ball around the tree in front of him. Mere mortals would have struggled to make bogey, Rose made par.
The Ryder Cup star said in the run up that he was here to win, and he has proved it with the 36 holes he has played so far in the Spanish capital. The way things have gone for him, not many other players would have made the cut. That’s the difference between good players and elite players, mental superiority.
Which is exactly why we will be able to enjoy more of this classy golfer at the weekend. His birdies on 14, 18, 4, and 8 are a clear sign that we are talking about a born competitor. A total of 67 shots today leave him at four under par. Anything can happen at the weekend.
As well as his mental strength, the 2013 US Open champion has a reputation for being something of a gentleman, and he is proving it again in Madrid. All we can ask of him is that he come back every year. No cussing, no angry faces, high-fiving anyone who thrusts a hand in his direction, etc. One Spanish mother was astonished when Justin gave her son a ball. “He didn’t even ask for it!”, she declared. More sportsmen like Rose, please!