It’s an impressive list. And it’s getting longer. Woburn. Valderrama. Huntingdale. Muirfield Village. Doral.
Merion. Cog Hill. Congressional. Aronimink. And now, Royal
Aberdeen. When Justin Rose
wins tournaments on either
the PGA or European tours, it’s
safe to say he doesn’t do so on
The latest addition to his
burgeoning portfolio of titles is the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, Rose’s maiden victory as a professional in the home of golf. But surely not his last, given
the clinically impressive manner in which the 33-year-old
Englishman saw off a high-profile field and, perhaps more
significantly, mastered a variety of meteorological conditions on one of golf’s classic links.
Wildly varying versions of wind, rain, mist (in the shape
of a Scottish haar) and warm sunshine were all present at
various times over four days in the northeast corner of Caledonia—surely not coincidentally, three of the top 10 finishers
were Scots—but all of it mattered little to the new world No. 3.
“I’ve been known to win some nice tournaments on some
nice courses,” said Rose with commendable understatement
after a closing 65, six under par, gave him a 16-under 268
and a two-shot edge over runner-up Kristoffer Broberg of
Sweden. “And winning at Royal Aberdeen certainly fits that
profile. I’m delighted to have won a tournament of this mag-
nitude on such a challenging layout. On every shot you have
to make three or four calculations: for wind, for how much
Sadly, with a few notable exceptions, even that basic
arithmetic was beyond the ken of a significant number of the
156-strong starting lineup. Transported into a world many
had apparently never experienced before, the nuances,
eccentricities and shotmaking requirements of golf by the
seaside seemed to be perplexing, befuddling and, for a sig-
nificant number, utterly bewildering.
When the wind blew just a little bit strongly on Day 2,
much carnage ensued. Although far from alone, Florida-based Scot Russell Knox was perhaps the most notable victim. Leading the tournament and eight under for the first 30
holes of his professional debut in his homeland, the 28-year-
old Highlander finished at even par, courtesy of two double
bogeys and four bogeys over the closing six holes.
“There have been times this week when I have wanted to
scream ‘stop’ to some of the young guys I’ve seen hitting shots
that were just wrong for the situation they happened to be
in,” sighed former British Open champion Darren Clarke, a
resident of Portrush in Northern Ireland. “Without naming
any names, I’ve seen any number of them hitting shots as hard
as they can into the wind. Which is madness. All that does is
‘up-shoot’ the ball and create way too much spin.
“Then there were the guys who either ignored or don’t see
the obvious shot along the ground. And sometimes it is obvious.
I’ve seen others hitting shots that go ‘with’ a crosswind—which
is fine if you want to hit a long tee shot—but not for an approach
to greens as firm as they are here. Far better to hold the ball up
into the breeze so that it will land softer and run less.
“I’ve actually had a wee laugh to myself when I’ve heard
players complaining about balls bounding over the back of
greens after they have hit shots that ride the wind. What
do they expect? I’m not sure that stems from a basic lack of
understanding. More likely it’s the result of them just not
playing much links golf.”
Clarke was not alone in his condemnation of a generation
reared on the comfort zones of forgiving modern equipment
and an almost constant diet of what might politely be termed
“We older guys grew up playing more links golf than
youngsters do these days,” said 57-year-old, six-time major
champion Nick Faldo, who shot a brace of 73s in his fifth
competitive appearance of 2014. “My contemporaries knew
the value of hitting to the middle of the green and not being
too aggressive when it isn’t really smart or necessary. The
old school had more shots in them.
˘ EUROPEAN TOUR