Justin Rose defeated Shawn Stefani with a par on the first playoff hole Sunday to win the Quickens Loan National (QLN) at Congressional Country Club (CCC) in Washington, D.C. Rose and Stefani finished on four-under-par, 280 to separate themselves by one shot from Americans Ben Martin and Charley Hoffman, who shared third. It was the first playoff on TOUR for each player and Rose's sixth win.
The real winner this week was CCC. After being torched at the 2011 U.S. Open to the tune of -16 by Rory McIlroy, the last three winners have been -12, -8 and now -4. With dogged rough, narrow landing areas and protected, slick greens, it’s hardly a surprise that only 10 players finished under par. Only four players cracked that on Sunday afternoon.
Standing on the 72nd tee with a one-shot lead, one of the best ball-strikers over the last five years, Justin Rose, pulled his tee shot left into the trees. His second found the pond in front of 18. His third was a drop. His fourth left him 15 feet. His fifth was holed for a bogey to post four-under. It was interesting because usually for Rose, it’s the other way around. Usually, the tee shot finds the middle of the fairway. The second finds the middle of the green. And then the putter doesn’t hold up its end of the deal. In 2014, he’s 61st in total putting. In 2013 he was 99th, including 133rd in strokes gained-putting. In 2014 he is 97th in ball-striking after being third in 2013.
Stefani was never in the playoff as he pulled his tee shot wide on No. 18. He second found the water and that was all she wrote. His P2 is his best finish ever on TOUR but more about him later.
Rose began his week four-over through the first nine holes on Thursday. Undaunted, he played his next 35 without a bogey and rebounded to fire 10-under through that stretch. The heart of that run included a tournament-low, bogey-free 65 on Friday that put him back into the mix. He entered Sunday three shots behind 54-hole leader Patrick Reed. His one-under, 70, was one of just four rounds under par on the day. Rose used his 2013 formula this week, fairways and greens as he was T11 in fairways and T13 GIR.
With the entire field backing up most of the weekend, the 2013 U.S. Open champion kept his nerve and more importantly, his ball in play to win for the fifth year in a row on TOUR. Only Dustin Johnson has a longer ACTIVE streak (8 years). Phil Mickelson has not won this year (10 years). Gamers couldn’t be happier with his rate of return over this period and this year. Rose is not 11 for 13 on the season, exactly what gamers expect and has six top 10s plus nine top 25s in that stretch. That’s what front-line, big-time, A-players do in fantasy land. He’s in the prime of his career. He’s won a major and he’s hardly satisfied. That’s an excellent combination! As he continually keeps proving over and over, he plays really difficult tracks well, another sign of a top, top player. Every week he’s in the field, he must be on a very short list of options to play in lineups of all gamers.
With his victory, Rose collects $1,170,000 and 500 FedExCup points.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 23 of 33 events in 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Brendon Todd, Ben Crane and Kevin Streelman have won for the USA.
Adam Scott, Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed five victories. Hideki Matsuyama joined Seung-yul Noh as the Asian representatives and Martin Kaymer now has a play pal as Justin Rose joins the European effort.
S.Y. Noh, Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley Matt Jones, Brendon Todd and Matsuyama are the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had nine in 33 events so far in 2014. Shawn Stefani (P2), Ben Martin (T3), Billy Hurley III (T8), Ricky Barnes (T11), Hudson Swafford (T11) and Richard Lee (T11) were all sniffing around for their first wins.
Only 17 of the 38, 54-hole leaders went on to win last year in full-field, stroke play events. I’m always trying to figure out if this is a trend or not. In 2013-14, 17 of 32 leaders have gone on to win as Patrick Reed could not capitalize on his two-shot overnight lead.
No player has defended their QLN title as 2013 champion Bill Haas shot 77 in the final round to drop from T11 to T30. He was two-under when the day began!
Justin Rose joins Tiger Woods as the only two players to win this event. Rose wins the tiebreaker as he won it at Aronimink AND CCC. Who’ll be the first to win at the Robert Trent Jones Club? Stay tuned!
Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer are the multiple winners on TOUR this season.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30) and Matt Jones (33), all first-timers, flew the flag before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Since the first major, Matt Kuchar (37), J.B. Holmes (32), Adam Scott (33), Ben Crane (38), Kevin Streelman (35) and Justin Rose, 33, add to the prime-timers trophy case.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) Seung-Yul Noh (22), Martin Kaymer TWICE (29), Brendon Todd (28) and Hideki Matsuyama (22), are the twenty-somethings who have made large noise this year.
Australian John Senden, 42, won at Tampa Bay for the only W for the “Old Guys” this season. Stewart Cink, 41, continued his steady cut-making ways and horse-for-course form at CCC with T21, the best of the “Old Guys” this week.