Justin Rose last night produced one of the gutsiest performances in golf when winning his second event on the American Tour in three starts. A week after blowing the Travelers Championship in spectacular style, the Englishman laid the ghosts of his capitulation to rest in the AT&T National.
Rose began the day four ahead, but with a 70 for a 10-under total ended up prevailing by one from the fast-finishing American Ryan Moore. To do so, the 29-year-old needed to par the last two holes; so much easier said than accomplished.
Seven days before he had watched in horror as a six-stroke advantage disappeared. But if that was preying on his mind – and it must have been – it didn't show as Rose followed up his par three on the 17th with a regulation two-putt par four on the last to prove himself the hottest golfer on the planet. He waited 162 PGA Tour starts for a victory and now he has two from 165.
His emotions on the 18th green screamed so vehemently of a personal success for a man who become well used to overcoming setbacks, having missed 21 cuts as a teenager at the start of his pro career. But this clearly merited a wider golfing celebration from his country.
The United Kingdom has won four from the last five American events, an unprecedented run of form. This was the UK's sixth PGA Tour triumph of the season, a startling return seeing as before this year no more than one UK golfer had won on the PGA Tour in any one year. If any sport can rescue the British summer it is golf at next week's Open at St Andrews. And Rose, in this nick, must be at its vanguard.
After an overnight flight he will arrive in Co Limerick today to contest the JP McManus Pro-Am. Also in the field will be Tiger Woods who will be teeing it up outside of America for the first time since the mistress scandal broke. All eyes will be on the world No 1 when he arrives at Adare Manor. While the two-day event is essentially an exhibition for charity – when it was last held in 2005 it raised €31.5m – Woods will be desperate to work on his putting before the Old Course.
His woeful showing on the greens was the reason why he finished down in 46th place in Pennsylvania. This was Woods' sixth tournament since his comeback from a self-enforced exile and represented his longest winless start to a season in eight years.
McManus must be applauded for once again assembling a quality cast. It contains no fewer than 12 of the world's top 15 which, next to the Open, makes it the finest field in Europe. Woods' appearance is the obvious highlight. The 14-time major winner would be forgiven for having a low-key build-up to the Open, particularly with speculation increasing that a divorce announcement is imminent. He could easily have headed immediately for the links of Ireland to reacclimatise himself for next week's challenge.
But Woods has played in the last two McManus Pro-Ams and counts the legendary gambler as a close friend. It was the Irishman's Sandy Lane resort in Barbados where the golfer and his wife, Elin, enjoyed their honeymoon six years ago and Woods has often talked about McManus in reverential terms. For his part, the Adare host is simply delighted Woods accepted his invite.
"Though I spoke briefly with Tiger at the Masters in April, we didn't mention the pro-am," McManus told the Irish Independent. "But if he wasn't playing, I knew he would inform me. Knowing Tiger as I do, if he had a decision made that he wasn't coming, I would be the first to know."
Joining Woods will be the US Open champion, Graeme McDowell, Paul Casey, John Daly, Rory McIlroy, Camilo Villegas, Ian Poulter, Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Luke Donald, Lucas Glover and the 2005 winner, Padraig Harrington. They will be partnered by teams of amateurs who have paid up to €125,000 for the honour. They include include actors Hugh Grant, Samuel L Jackson and Michael Douglas and the football managers, Martin O'Neill and Harry Redknapp.