By Sam McPherson
It’s been 20 years since England’s Justin Rose leaped onto the scene, when he finished fourth at the British Open as an amateur. Since then he has done pretty well for himself, winning the 2013 U.S. Open and the gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. This weekend Rose earned his ninth career PGA Tour victory, and his second title this season, with an impressive four-round performance to win the Fort Worth Invitational by three strokes over American Brooks Koepka.
Rose shot 66-64-66-64 to finish 20-under par at Colonial Country Club, taking the lead on Friday and never looking back. Koepka posted a 63 in both the second and fourth rounds, but it was not enough to overcome Rose’s excellent consistency. The Englishman won $1.278 million and is second in the FedExCup standings this season. Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo finished third at 16-under, and American Kevin Na was fourth with a 14-under par score.
Sunday began with Rose and a four-shot lead over Koepka, and the outcome of the event was never really in doubt, as both players went very low in the fourth and final round. Koepka’s opening-round 70 is what really cost him a chance to win the tournament, even with his dual 63 efforts in the subsequent rounds. That’s how Rose’s low-scoring consistency on this beatable golf course won the weekend for him. Overall, seven players shot all four rounds in the 60s, including Rose and Grillo.
Thursday’s first round produced a bunched-up leaderboard, with 18 players carding rounds of 66 or better. Na led at 8-under after a round of 62, followed by Charley Hoffman just one stroke behind. Four players posted a 64 on the day, while 11 different players shot 4-under par on Thursday. The course clearly was playing well for the opening 18 of the tournament.
Rose shot a 64 on Friday to claim the second-round lead at 10-under par after his 66 the previous day. One stroke behind, Grillo stood at 9-under after posting a 67 to go along with his 64 from Thursday’s first round. Two players were tied at 7-under par: Satoshi Kodaira and Koepka. The latter’s round of 63 on Friday was the low round of the day, as Na slipped to a 73 in the second round and fell into a tie for sixth place.
After the third round, Rose had built his lead to four strokes with a round of 66, while Koepka tried to keep pace with a 67 of his own. Grillo shot a 69 to tie with Koepka and stay four behind the leader. Five golfers were tied for fourth place at 8-under, six strokes behind Rose.
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Next On The Tee: The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide
From one historic event to the next, the PGA Tour heads to the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, for the tournament Jack Nicklaus founded in 1976. Jason Dufner is the defending champion at The Memorial, where Tiger Woods has won five times in his career (1999-2001, 2009, 2012), and he is playing again this week. Nicklaus himself won the event twice in his career, as did all-time greats Greg Norman and Tom Watson.
Recent Memorial winners who are in the field once again this season include William McGirt (2016), David Lingmerth (2015), Hideki Matsuyama (2014), and Matt Kuchar (2013). Rose won this event in 2010 and finished second in 2015, so he certainly will be aiming for another Tour win this week in Dublin. The field is loaded for The Memorial, as it represents one of the final tune-up events for the U.S. Open in two weeks, and carries the prestige of Nicklaus’s legendary impact on the sport itself.
Nicklaus himself designed the course, and every year, he continues to make small adjustments to the layout. Muirfield has hosted some big events in the past, in addition to this annual PGA Tour event: the 1987 Ryder Cup, the 1992 U.S. Amateur, and the 2013 Presidents Cup. Justin Leonard won that 1992 amateur title before going on to win the 1997 British Open as a professional.
The Muirfield Village Golf Club course plays 7,392 yards long and is a par 72.
Favorites: Matt Kuchar, Kevin Na, Justin Rose
Players to Watch: Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Tiger Woods
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.