BELEK, Turkey – Is Justin Rose a Hall of Famer?
Two weeks ago, the answer would have been categorically “No,” but a lot can happen in a fortnight.
With Sunday’s victory in the Turkish Airlines Open, Rose has won two consecutive tournaments on the European Tour and thrust himself into consideration for the World Golf Hall of Fame. It might seem disingenuous to place Rose, with 18 career worldwide victories, including the 2013 U.S. Open title, into the discussion for a shrine anchored with such pillars as Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Sam Snead and Peter Thomson.
The World Golf Hall of Fame no longer holds that sort of unimpeachable cachet. It has been eroded into something akin to the Hall of Very Good. Induction, which now is every two years instead of annually, clearly is less of a meritocracy.
At times, the unquestionable Hall of Famers are honored. Too often, however, merely good players emerge from the pool of potential candidates to round out the selection class.
The process is fraught with disdain by media members, who no longer have much of a say in the selection. The governing bodies and tours have hijacked the process.
Which brings us back to Rose.
Two weeks ago, Rose won the WGC HSBC Champions in Shanghai for his second World Golf Championships title. The WGC events carry more prestige than other European or PGA tour events, exclusive of the four major championships. Rose’s victory Sunday in Turkey also comes with added significance, as the first of three stops in the Race to Dubai playoffs (scores: http://bit.ly/2j2yqWf).
Add to those 18 victories a 2016 Olympic gold medal in golf’s return to the games after a 112-year absence and Rose surges past some of the hall’s recent inductees.
Over the weekend on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, Rose played the final 36 holes at Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort in 13 under for a 64-65 finish. Under the lower criteria for golf immortality, Rose, 37, of England, already deserves a bust in the St. Augustine, Fla., shrine, even if rules require that he be at least age 50 or inactive on tour for five years.
“Someone said to me, ‘If you could do it all over again, if you could wipe the slate clean right now and do it all over again, would you?’ It's a good question,” said Rose, with the Turkish Airlines Open trophy sitting at his side. “I'm not sure I would. It's been 20 years of hard graft, hard work, and I've achieved a lot. I've achieved a major championship. I've won Olympic gold. I've won a lot of other tournaments. I've had some great moments. To kind of try to do all of that again from a fresh, clean slate, that would be a daunting task.”
After a tie for fourth as an amateur in the 1998 British Open, Rose turned professional with tremendous promise. He proceeded to miss 21 consecutive cuts worldwide.
The fact that he was still upright to post a tie for 74th and earn a check for 1,340 euros at the 1999 Compaq European Grand Prix says all you need to know about Rose, who now is one of the best players in the world.
“I'm kind of happy with where things are at, and there's a lot more I believe I can achieve,” he said. “I think I'm coming into a nice part of my career, where there's a lot of experience under my belt and there's a lot of learning that's being done. I feel fresh, I feel healthy and I feel motivated, more importantly.
“I've always said I'd like to be a Hall of Fame player, and I guess who makes that determination, I don't know, but that's kind of what I'm working towards. So, is that two major championships and 20 wins? I don't know what it is. Olympic gold will probably be kind of a nice bargaining chip when it comes to that.”
Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli