Justin Rose says he’s moving in the right direction – toward the winner’s circle – as he prepares to tee off in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits on Thursday.
The 2013 US Open champion was in scintillating form at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational last week, although his putter let him down in the final round of an eventual third-place finish.
“It’s a bit of a consistency thing,” said Rose. “I think my good putting has been pretty good. I just need to find that level of consistency.”
While it was frustrating not to be able to capitalise on his share of the 54-hole lead, the 35-year-old Englishman said his Bridgestone performance – in the wake of his tie for sixth at the British Open and share of fourth at the Quicken Loans National – had left him with plenty of confidence.
“I feel like I’m trending in the right direction,” Rose said. “Tied sixth at the Open, tied fourth, tied third – I’m moving towards the winner’s circle so I’m coming into here with a lot of confidence.”
Rose’s history at Whistling Straits – the 7,514-yard, par-72 course on the shores of Lake Michigan – is unspectacular.
In two prior PGA Championships here, in 2004 and 2010, Rose missed the cut.
“I don’t remember a lot about 2004 and 2010 – I think I’m right in saying there wasn’t a lot to remember,” he said.
“In 2010 I had a good season up to that point and won a couple of times during the summer.
“And I think I came in here maybe a little burnt out, sort of trying to readjust to having had such a strong summer and getting a couple of wins under my belt. I felt like I just didn’t quite have that resolve to play well in the year’s last major.”
This year, in contrast, Rose says he feels he’s gaining strength as the season progresses.
He kickstarted his 2015 campaign with a tie for second at the Masters and won in New Orleans two weeks later.
That victory came on a course designed by Pete Dye, the architect of Whistling Straits.
“I would say throughout my career I’ve had a bit of trouble with Pete Dye golf courses,” Rose said. “He’s the master of illusion … his courses take some time getting used to.
“The Zurich Classic this year I won on a Pete Dye golf course and last year I had my best ever Players Championship, which obviously is a Pete Dye golf course.
“I think I’m getting my head around the challenges that he presents.”
This week, that challenge won’t be one of links golf, Rose said, despite the labelling of Whistling Straits as a “links style” course.
Above all, Rose said, the course lacks the firmness of a sea-breeze blown links.
“It’s incredibly lush here at Whistling Straits,” he said. “The only thing that’s linksy is the fact that you see water and there’s some fescue grasses out there.
“But it’s really target golf right now. The ball is not running. The visual is links, but the mindset is target golf.”