JUSTIN Rose claimed his first tournament victory of the year at the Quicken Homes National yesterday, surviving a dramatic finale to beat Shawn Stefani in a play-off.
The Hook golfer was tied for the lead on the 18th tee at Congressional but pulled his drive into the trees and saw his second shot find a green-side water hazard.
However, a fine up and down, including a vital 15 foot putt, saw Rose make bogey, which turned out to be enough to earn him a play-off against American Stefani.
The pair played the final hole again, and this time it was Stefani who found the water, allowing Rose to win the tournament with a solid par.
“When you make a putt like that that means something like that on the 18th hole, it’s special,” the former Robert May’s School pupil said. “And then in the playoff, it was just up to me to not do what I did the first time around.”
Rose made a slow start to the tournament. He was four-over-par after eight holes on his way to an opening round of 74 (+3), but a bogey-free second round of 65 (-6) moved him to within three shots of the lead going into the weekend.
A solid level-par round of 71 saw the 33-year-old hold position on Saturday, and while he bogeyed the third hole in the final round, birdies at six, nine and 11 had him tied for the lead, setting up the late drama.
The victory moves Rose up two places to eighth in the world rankings, while he sits 12th in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings and looks to have secured his place in the European team for the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
“It’s a huge boost confidence-wise because I’ve been semi-in contention this year,” he said. “I haven’t really been playing with a lead all year. To do it and get it done and make key putts, that’s huge for my psyche going into The Open.
“It also gives me a nice boost for the rest of the year. A nice boost in the FedEx Cup as the Playoffs are almost upon us, a nice boost in Ryder Cup points, probably taking that off my mind.
“It’s a really nice time of year to have a victory and allows me to focus on exciting challenges now ahead.”
Rose is not in action this weekend, but he is due to play the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen next week to complete his build-up to The Open, which gets under way at Royal Liverpool on July 17.