Justin Rose could not conceive of a better way to kick off his post-U.S. Open title career than kicking back with a little R&R at this week’s Travelers Championship.
“I enjoy coming to Hartford,” Rose, who outlasted Phil Mickelson and 154 other golfers in the birdie-free zone that was Merion Golf Club, told reporters Tuesday ahead of this week’s event at TPC River Highlands. “I’ve always just had a really, really good time here.”
The 32-year-old Englishman made four consecutive starts at the Travelers starting in 2007, with two top-10 closes, a top-20, and a missed cut to show for it. This week marks the first time since 2010 he will be in the 156-player field. He never considered not showing, even after such a hectic last few days.
Rose, whose wife, Kate, officially notified tourney organizers Sunday night that her husband would honor his previous commitment to start, has made what has become a de rigueur tour of the New York Stock Exchange and late-night talk shows, including a turn at reading the Top 10 list on "Late Night with David Letterman."
Given the media whirlwind on top of the mental and physical energy it took to close out Phil Mickelson and Jason Day by two strokes on Sunday, Rose could not promise his game would be its sharpest and planned to go easy on himself.
“This week is going to be somewhat of a ‘Let’s wait and see how I play,’” he said. “I’m going to have to sort of be lenient on myself from that perspective. My game is in good shape and I hope it carries through.”
Rose contended he always had TPC River Highlands on his GPS and looked forward to what he called “an old-school PGA Tour” atmosphere. As part of his preparations for the major, he also planned to tee it up at next week’s AT&T National.
Organizers of the event at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, no doubt, heaved a sigh of relief at hearing that, what with the tourney’s host and marquee name, Tiger Woods, sidelined until the British Open with that elbow injury.
“The way I’ve set up my preparation for the U.S. Open, I set it up as a three-week run, mentally, just trying to stay fresh for three weeks,” Rose said. “Only getting [to Merion] Tuesday night was intentional, to play well at the U.S. Open, but I knew I was also playing two tournaments on the back end of the U.S. Open as well....I figured I won’t interrupt that.”
Rose goes off the first tee at 12:50 p.m. ET Thursday with Keegan Bradley and Zach Johnson.