The four-wood he hit to four feet on the ninth hole to set up an eagle yesterday was the shot of the tournament, but Rose was also soothingly accurate off the tee.
It is just a shame he didn’t make last month’s US Open due to the outmoded qualifying rules because he would
have had a genuine chance of victory. Rose said afterwards: “This was my US Open.”
Last week Rose blew a four-shot final round lead at the Travelers and blamed his putting after missing a tiny one early on. For most of the AT&T he was brilliant on the greens, but the comfort of a five-shot lead with nine to play was removed by three-putts on both the 10th and 11th holes.
Until then Rose had gone 274 holes without a three-putt, the longest streak on the PGA Tour.
It made Rose slightly vulnerable to a charge and the move came from Moore. The American’s 65 was an outrageous mix of brilliant shots, hairy up and downs and a fair bit of luck. It meant that Rose had a precarious one-shot lead when he came to the 18th tee.
Despite having to back off his tee shot when a daft marshal called for quiet at the worst moment, Rose hammered his drive down the middle. It showed remarkable strength of mind after last week’s meltdown. The win guaranteed Rose’s place in the St Andrews Open where he failed to qualify in 2000 and 2005.
Rose won the St Andrews Links on the course as an amateur and he finished second at the 2007 Dunhill Links, so he knows his game is suited to the course. As always the biggest variable with Rose’s game is his putting, a key to success round the Old Course.
Tiger Woods is in far more uncertain form as he joins Rose in Ireland today for the JP McManus Invitational. Woods shot a final round 71 at the AT&T, failing to break par in any of his four rounds. It is the first non-major tournament since the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 1999 that Woods has played all four rounds without breaking par.
He was still remarkably optimistic about his chances at St Andrews, which he described as his favourite golf course “by far.” Woods said yesterday: “I’m excited.
“I was hitting driver as many times as I could because it felt so good. I just wanted to keep hitting it. That hasn’t been the case lately. Now I need to get my putter working a little bit better and get it rolling.”
Woods’s short game was the biggest factor in his two previous Open victories at St Andrews but it is uncertain how much preparation he will get in the coming week.