ERIN, Wis. — Justin Rose doesn’t take for granted what he does for a living, especially every year on the third weekend of June at the U.S. Open. This year is no different for the 2013 U.S. Open champion, who won his first major on Father’s Day four years ago.
Rose lost his father, Ken, 15 years ago this September. Ken, who coached Rose through his early years in the game, lost a long battle with cancer at the age of 57.
When Rose won the U.S. Open 11 years later, carrying out the dream they shared together, the memory of his father was paramount.
“It was a huge gift to be honest with you, winning on Father’s Day,” Rose said during his press conference Tuesday. “That weekend I felt so incredibly connected to him, which is the one thing I look back on my U.S. Open win. [What] I’m most thankful for is giving me that moment of connection, the really deep connection again.”
Since his win, Rose’s performance at the U.S. Open has varied; he missed the cut at Oakmont last year, finished tied for 27th at Chambers Bay and tied for 12th at Pinehurst. But in his run up to losing the 2017 Masters in dramatic fashion, the Englishman posted three other top-fives and a reignited fire to win.
“I was very conscious of trying to peak at the Masters, and obviously I did a good job of that,” Rose said. “…I feel like I’m beginning to trend into this tournament. So although the results might not be there to kind of back that up, I feel good about where the week can go for me from here.”
Rose had Erin Hills to himself last week, something he said he was spoiled to have experienced. Rose’s practice has told him the course will reward patience and keeping the ball in play, but something about this week — two things, rather, named Leo and Charlotte — enhances the way Rose looks at a preparing for the national championship.
“I tried to play golf how my dad taught me to, and I tried to play golf in a way that my kids can look up to,” Rose said. “If you are in contention and things go your way, it’s a beautiful way of being rewarded professionally, but then kind of realizing why you do it and obviously realizing that family is first.”
“It’s always a good reminder for me to try to be my best and to be a good role model for my children, but also make my dad proud.”
On Sunday night, victorious or not, Rose will celebrate Father’s Day with his wife Kate, and Leo and Lottie. He’ll be surrounded by people in a way he wasn’t last week, as he walked the heartland course that is Erin alone.
Or, maybe, he was never really alone at all.