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Quiken Loans National: Postive signs for Woods as Rose grows in stature

By: Golf Shake | Mon 30 Jun 2014

Post by Sports Writer - Derek Clements 

WHEN Tiger Woods missed the cut at the Quicken Loans National, it would have been no surprise had the world's media packed up shop and gone home. That they didn't had much to do with the fact the tournament was being played at Congressional, one of the toughest courses on the planet.

It certainly found out the comeback kid, with Woods struggling to find fairways and being driven to distraction by his inability to get putts to the hole. The good news was that the 14-time major champion declared himself happy with his game and, more importantly, with his troublesome back.

If Woods couldn't figure out the Congressional puzzle, what chance did the rest of the field have?

There were grim predictions that as the week wore on and the greens dried out, the winning score would be somewhere close to par.


And while many of the field struggled to get to grips with this beast of a golf course, there were some notable exceptions. The more difficult the course, the more that Justin Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, seems to grow in stature, and he showed what was possible with a second round of 65.

There wasn't a cloud in the sky as the final round began, but that didn't stop JB Holmes recording a triple-bogey seven and a double bogey seven in his first seven holes. It would require something rather better from the front runners, with Patrick Reed among them.

Seeking his third victory of the season, Reed has suffered an alarming slump in recent weeks, missing five cuts in his past seven outings - hardly the form of the world top-five golfer he claims to be. To be fair to Reed, he and his wife, Justine, have recently given birth to a baby.

Whatever was missing, Reed seems to have rediscovered it, and he sat atop the leaderboard after three rounds. He birdied the first and third holes, but a double-bogey at the second and dropped shots at fourth and fifth were not what he was looking for, and he breathed ahuge sigh of relief when he birdied the par-five sixth to move to five under and lead by one.

But Rose was breathing down his neck. The Englishman started the day two off the lead and dropped a shot at the third, but he birdied the sixth and ninth holes to trail Reed by a shot. Alongside Rose were Shawn Stefani, Mark Leishman annd Seung-Yul Noh, of South Korea.

Leishman and Noh have already won once each this season and are full of confidence, while Stefani has a pressing need to start earning some serious money. He started the week in 155th place in the FedEx Cup, in serious danger of losing his playing privileges.

Back to back bogeys saw  Leishman slip back, while Brendon Todd, another winner in 2014, reached the turn in 33 to trail Reed by two shots.

Rose briefly drew level when he birdied the 11th, but Reed nosed ahead with one of his own on the eighth.

But then Reed had a disaster at the par-three 10th, where he ran up a five and found himself one behind Rose. Those expecting Stefani to start feeling the heat were to be disappointed. Yes, he dropped a couple of shots on the front nine, but he also picked up three birdies and followed that with a succession of pars. At four under he was tied with Reed.
And so it continued throughout the back nine.

Tied for the lead as he played the 18th hole at Congressional, Rose tried to hit through two trees left of the fairway and overturned the shot. It ran down a bank and into the water, and he had to hole a 15-foot bogey putt. Behind him, Stefani made bogey on the 17th and narrowly missed a birdie putt on the 18th to set up the first playoff in the eight-year history of this event.

Unsurprisingly, given what was at stake, the pressure got to Stefani at the first extra hole, the 18th. After taking a drop because the grandstands blocked his view of the green, he wanted to play his low punch to the right side of the green. His shot also had too much turn and bounded into the water. Rose hit the middle of the green from the fairway and two-putted for par. Stefani made double bogey.


It was Rose's first win since the U.S. Open last summer at Merion, and it felt like he won another U.S. Open as tough as Congressional played. With putting surfaces that had a brown tinge to them even before the leaders teed off, and thick rough all week, it was a far stronger test than when the Open was held in soggy conditions in 2011.

Watch the highlights from the Quicken Loans International Final Round >>>>>

"Congressional got its reputation back after the U.S. Open," Rose said. "I really enjoy this type of golf and this type of test. I think it tested all of us. I'm delighted."

Rose moves to 12 in the standings with the victory, his sixth on the PGA Tour..

Rose and Stefani each closed with a 1-under 70 - only six players broke par in the final round - and finished at 4-under 280. For Stefani there was the considerable consolation of clinching a spot in The Open at Hoylake.

Derek Clements is a sports journalist with a particular passion for golf with over 12 years of experience covering golf and other sports including Chief Sub-Editor on the sports desk of The Sunday Times. To contact Derek email direct via [email protected]


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Tags: tiger woods PGA Tour justin rose

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