Justin Rose was in the Media Center at this week’s Valspar Championship on the Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor (Tampa), Florida.
He was talking about his one and only major, the 2013 U.S. Open and how hard it was going to be to win a second major. And although I thought his answer was a little fatalistic, I was impressed with his thoughtfulness:
I think you just got to play golf for the right reasons. You got to keep enjoying the game. At the end of the day grinding and struggling for 15, 20 years to get to this point and you win one week, one big tournament and obviously it’s a huge moment but it doesn’t add up to the struggles and all the effort you put in. I think the success doesn’t equate to the grinding that you put in.
So, I think you got to just continue to love the game, continue to want to work hard. You got to continue to want to improve. That for me is the biggest motivator, how good can I be and how much better can I get?
I think if I focus on that side of the game, I just believe that tournaments and major championships will come to me rather than me trying to chase them down. It becomes harder that way.
This is counterintuitive to what most players would say. We can just see all of those trophy presentations; the looks of dismay, of joy, of relief and satisfaction. And I don’t remember anyone saying it wasn’t worth all the effort. In fact, my sense of it is that all of them say that it was.
But there is also in Rose’s take on it, a nod to the discipline of the game. As a general rule, you have to do the right things the right way for a long time. Even for a swing savant like Bubba Watson, he plays golf every day. It is incessant. And because it’s incessant, when he gets into the heat of a tournament, it’s like he’s been there before…like every other day.
But in the end, I suppose Rose’s mindset is no different than the professional convention of just putting blinders on in a tournament. Don’t pay attention to Tiger, don’t pay attention to the guys you’re paired with, only pay attention to the target and the shot to that target.
If you do that and you’ve played as best you can, the tournament will come to you.