US Open 2013: Father Ken was teacher, analyst and Justin Rose's rock
Quiet and stoical, Rose Snr developed his son's calm temperament through years of turmoil
Tuesday 18 June 2013
Parents. Don't you love 'em? Generally, one has the greater influence on their offspring. Jack Nicklaus resembled both the physique and mentality of Charlie, a pharmacist in Columbus, Ohio, and Earl Woods masterminded Tiger's career for the first 18 years to such an extent that he made sure jazz was playing in the house when he brought his son home from hospital after his birth.
Ben Hogan didn't really know his father, who shot himself in an adjoining room when Ben was eight. Joyce, not George, Faldo was the more dominant parent in Nick's family, giving their only child, in the words of Sigmund Freud, the belief that "a man who had been the indisputable favourite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror, that confidence of success that often induces real success".
Justin Rose is the son of Annie, a charming, softly spoken mother, known in the family as "Mother Goose", and Ken, an outstanding squash and tennis player, a competent golfer with a keen analytical mind for the golf swing who was Justin's only teacher for the first years of his golfing life, amateur and professional, before dying of leukaemia in 2002.
Before he died Ken and I had lunch at a pub near his home. "How do you bring up two children when one is exceptionally talented and the other may not be?" I asked. "Annie and I decided when our children were born that whatever it took we would do all we could to give them the best," Rose Snr replied. "We did not want them to go through life wondering about what might have happened. You treat them both the same. It has been hard sometimes.
"But you make sure that insofar as you can you give them the same. Justin and [his sister] Margi are such good friends that they often share a room."
The young Justin first emerged on a national stage as a gangling teenager on legs as thin and wobbly as a foal's. He became the youngest to play in a Walker Cup and, still an amateur, was the hero of the 1998 Open. Behind him every step of the way was Ken, head often hidden beneath a straw hat, endlessly polite and quietly confident. Ken was by his son's side when Justin, having turned professional and just 18, failed to last through to the last two days of 21 successive tournaments.
This was the time when the Justin Rose who won the US Open was moulded, the time when he showed the character that enabled him to win at Merion.
For week after week of Justin's professional career Ken would either caddy for Justin or walk outside the ropes keeping his son's statistics. He was a quiet, stoical presence, a rock for his son.
They would share a room, eat meals together, spend entire days in each other's company and Ken's presence was a subject for criticism from others who wanted Justin to learn to do things on his own. Not for the first time Ken Rose was right, his critics were wrong.
The time when Justin needed Ken most came when the son emerged from the scorer's tent each Friday evening, having failed to qualify for the last two rounds – again – and having to confront the journalists who could not understand why this promising young man was having such a wretched run. It was the same questions week after week. "What's wrong, Justin?" What are you going to do about it, Justin?". "When will it all end, Justin?"
One day, seeing what torture this was for Justin, Ken said: "Jus, you know I can get you out of this. I can get you out of the back door of the tent after you have signed your card so you don't have to face the journalists. Monty [Colin Montgomerie] would do that. So would many other players. I can fix it for you."
"Thanks Dad but no," Justin replied. "I've got to go through this. It's part of becoming what I want to become, a champion. I don't like it particularly but I'll do it. I'm learning from it."
Learning so well, as it turned out, that first he won a tournament in South Africa, then one in Europe, then in the US and now one of the game's four most-prized events. Little wonder then that on holing out on Sunday afternoon he looked to the skies and raised his finger as if to say: "Thanks, Dad." Justin's words on his father's death came to mind: "Dad has been everything to me. My guide, my mentor, my best friend."
Last week Annie Rose was in Bristol where Margi was about to have her first child. She was in tears when she and Justin spoke and so was Justin. Margi was probably crying. And Ken might have been too, for all we know. The Roses, a family of three acclaiming the success of a fourth.
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