He crowned a member of the grey community, saw a teenage boy faint as a consequence, shot a second successive round of 66 and claimed he was operating only at half-speed. If Justin Rose should ever find top gear this weekend, or next, it could be one hell of a ride.
It has been an unusual year for the 2013 US Open champion, the customary consistency not there. But when he gets it right, as he increasingly looks as though he might, Rose is a threat in any company, to limb as well as rival.
The errant tee shot in question came on the 16th hole. Rose takes up the story. “He was reasonably OK. A bit of blood and that’s never a nice sight. He was an elderly gentleman but he took it incredibly well. He was on the floor resting, talking to me and he seemed OK.
“I was hoping my ball was going to hold up and go a little further to the right. I saw it jump in the air, and as soon as I saw that I knew it hadn’t hit anywhere soft. I thought maybe it just hit the stake, then I realised somebody was on the ground, which is never a nice feeling.”
There was humour on all sides, as well as concern. The injured party explained that he had been coming to golf for years and had never sustained a hit. And then Phil Mickelson approached and apologised that he was not responsible on this occasion.
Rose had no kind of form heading into the first major of the season in April and ended up leading the Masters on day one and sharing the final group with Jordan Spieth. He would settle for that at the Open next week.
“I just want to go into next week with a good mindset,” he said. “It feels good right now. I feel calm. I just want to get that freedom going, which is what you are going to need down the stretch in a major.
“I would say I’m running at 50 per cent, still a couple of loose shots that I’m getting away with on this golf course, so definitely some room for improvement. But two 66s is definitely a nice way to start the tournament.”
If on the first day at Gullane America colonised the leader board, day two was all about the British and Irish response, England’s Daniel Brooks striking out alone on 11 under par, followed three shots back by countrymen Matthew Nixon and Rose, plus Ulsterman Graeme McDowell and Ireland’s Shane Lowry.
Brooks is risking nosebleeds over the weekend. His passage into the final rounds in France last week broke a sequence of 13 consecutive missed cuts. At 28 Brooks is an established journeyman in this company, operating in the margins between Challenge Tour and main event. But like every golfer who has made it to the pro ranks, there is a big week in him if everything goes his way.
You might say a birdie-birdie finish to add a 65 to his opening 64 conformed to that template.
“It’s been good for the last three weeks now,” he said. “Played nicely in Germany but just missed the cut. Played some nice golf in France, just made silly mistakes. Cut them out this week and it’s worked out so far.”
Lowry, who led the European assault on the last day at the US Open, continued to convince of his readiness to move among the elite with a second successive 66. “Things have been going well for me of late,” he said. “When you are going well you need to enjoy it, and I am.”Reuse content