In the end it wasn’t Tiger Woods who took all the headlines on his return, it was Justin Rose.
The Englishman managed to win the Quicken Loans National by outlasting the rest of the field, although it took a play-off for him to shake off the challenge of Shawn Stefani.
It was the American’s best ever finish on the PGA Tour, but he will be cursing what might have been after he was leading the tournament with only two holes to go.
For Rose it almost went wrong on the 72nd hole of the tournament. The 2013 US Open champion was holding a share of the lead, but an erratic approach-shot into the water cost him a shot and he then faced a nervous wait in the clubhouse for Stefani, who was then the outright leader, to finish his round.
Thankfully for Rose, Stefani made the mistake he needed – bogeying the 17th and dropping back to four-under-par.
In the playoff, Stefani was to make the same error as Rose had and this time it was to prove costly. It meant that he could not save his par and allowed Rose a two-putt for victory, which he seized.
This is the first tournament that the 32-year-old has own since winning at Merion in 2013 and he was naturally pleased by his success.
“It was a tough golf course coming here and I'm delighted [to win],” he said to reporters on the PGA Tour, before taking to social media Twitter to post a picture of his celebrations with the caption “2014 Quicken Loans National Champion... Sounds really good!”
He also said that Congressional, the course where the tournament was played, had managed to get its reputation over the duration of the week.
Congressional had always been reputed as a tough course, designed to test players to the max, but that was put under scrutiny in 2011 when it hosted the US Open.
In that competition Rory McIlroy was able to get to 16-under-par, winning the tournament by eight shots in the process. However, this week it proved much tougher. Only 11 players were able to shoot under par scores for the four days, whilst the final day average score was 73.2, two-over the 71 par score set.
“I think Congressional got its reputation back after the U.S. Open for sure,” he said.
“I really enjoy this type of golf and this type of test. I think it tested all of us and for four under par to win this championship was exactly what we bargained for.”
The challenges are set to keep on coming for Rose now, who will be aiming to use his first win on the tour this season as a building block.
It comes at a good time, too. With the British Open set to commence in July, and Rose will be dreaming of picking up his second win of the season there.
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