Justin Rose looks back on the experience of winning his first major title
Last Updated: 24/12/13 9:33am
Justin Rose has revealed how he kept his emotions under control as he reflected on a memorable 2013 that yielded his first major title.
The 33-year-old became the first Englishman to win the US Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970 when he pulled off a remarkable two-shot triumph at Merion in June.
Rose insisted the win was a "natural progression" after improving his all-round game over the last three years, and he admitted his added length off the tee and steadfast belief in his ability were crucial to his success.
"It's been a great year," he said. "I think all golfers agree that if you win a major championship it's a great year no matter what else happens.
"I came out of the blocks fast in Abu Dhabi in January and played some good golf. I played with Ernie Els over the first two rounds and he gave me some great compliments.
"He said to my caddie that if I kept doing what I was doing, I would win a major.
"I just believed my game was good enough and my skill set was well-rounded enough, I just needed to be mentally sharp. That's were I can certainly improve. I also hit the ball a little further this year, which was an element of my game I added.
"I knew I was on a pretty good trend, from 2010 to 2012 I thought I was getting better as a player and I was winning bigger tournaments. The natural progression for me was to then win a major championship, so 2013 has continued that trend."
Rose also revealed that playing Merion the week before the tournament was invaluable in learning how to tackle the famed layout.
"I was there for three days, and there was nobody else out there," he said. "No crowd, hardly any other players, and I fell in love with the golf course.
"I developed a great game plan, and I felt like I understood how to play the course. It's quite a quirky golf course."
Rose battled for the lead with fan-favourite Phil Mickelson over the final day before pulling off two of the best shots of his career at the 18th - a huge drive that split the fairway followed by a pure four-iron approach that shaved the hole before settling in the rear fringe.
"I knew I was right there, and I had as good a chance as anybody," he said. "I could hear what Phil was doing because obviously the crowd was so much on his side. I just knew that I had to keep hitting good golf shots.
"But I was prepared to put myself out there and stick my neck out and risk the upset of losing a major because that's what you have to do.
"You can't ignore that last shot. You keep your head down and keep plugging away, but when it's that last shot, that's really going to make the difference.
"You just have to take a deep breath, take a smooth practice swing and just really trust your training at that point.
"What I did on that 18th hole which really helped was that I didn't try to steer a shot in or over-control anything. I just trusted myself and my mechanics and let it happen.
"That's easier said than done under that pressure. I had a five-minute wait standing by my ball on the final fairway. The 18th at Merion is an iconic hole anyway, obviously with that Ben Hogan photograph we've all grown up seeing millions of times.
"Suddenly it was my chance - it was me standing in the middle of that fairway. I knew exactly where I was at the time and knew exactly what I needed to do. That's what makes it so rewarding, knowing that you have pulled off the shot when you've really had to.
"I think I'm still in the surreal phase when I look at that trophy. Soon it will be a replica, unless I win it again next year, but that's the one that Hogan, Tiger, Jack and Arnold all held so I'm just really enjoying the history of it right now."
Watch In Bloom: The Justin Rose story on Sky Sports 2HD on Christmas Day at 11am and 6pm