Justin Rose: Adding distance with Project 300 got him to the top

BETHPAGE, NEW YORK - MAY 14: Justin Rose of England plays a shot during a practice round prior to the 2019 PGA Championship at the Bethpage Black course on May 14, 2019 in Bethpage, New York. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
BETHPAGE, NEW YORK - MAY 14: Justin Rose of England plays a shot during a practice round prior to the 2019 PGA Championship at the Bethpage Black course on May 14, 2019 in Bethpage, New York. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Justin Rose is one of the top players in the world, but to compete for majors like this week’s PGA Championship, he needed to get a lot longer off the tee.

Justin Rose burst onto the worldwide golf scene more than 20 years ago when, as an amateur, he chipped in at the final hole in the 1998 British Open and tied for fourth.

Immediately afterward, he turned pro and had almost no success whatsoever, missing 21 straight cuts. Then things got worse.

After earning a card for the Euro Tour, Rose failed to keep it. But he slogged on, regained his playing status.  He began a long climb up the ladder of professional golf, seeking success. Finally, he reached the top several ways.

In 2013, he won the U.S. Open.

He’s  been on five Ryder Cup teams, earning a total of 14 points to date.

In the first Olympics where golf was played after a more than 100-year absence, Rose won the gold medal.

He’s been No. 1 in the world, trading with Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka.

In short, Justin Rose has morphed from a young, energetic but unsuccessful golfer to a mature, established, respected player who is a threat to win on all the world tours at any time.

A big part of his more recent success was due to what he called Project 300.

“I felt like to compete on Tour and be one of the best players in the world, you had to fly the ball 300 yards in the air,” Rose said to media prior to the PGA. “That seemed to be just a nice round number, obviously, but that was kind of I felt the metric that would kind of open up a few golf courses for me. It would make a difference.”

He said in recent years, he’s been able to reach and surpass that 300-yard mark through improvements in technique and fitness, along with some other methods that he did not identify.   After all, no one wants to give up all their secrets.

Rose began to average over 300 yards in 2015.  This week, with the length of Bethpage Black, his Project 300 plan will pay dividends.

“I would say this is the kind of golf course where, maybe you’re looking at the field not necessarily as 156, but maybe looking at 30, 40 guys that maybe can win this tournament based on the length,” he noted. “I think driving the golf ball and distance will be a really big advantage this week.”

Justin Rose is currently 24th in driving distance average on the PGA Tour at 305.7 yards.  But this week is not just about distance, because of the style of the course and the set up.

“I don’t want to bring in the word U.S. Open, but the golf course has more of that feel to it this week I would say,” Rose said, “and if it was a U.S. Open, you would say, wow, this is a really fair test of golf.”

But, Rose pointed out, the course has other aspects that make it a real challenge. And one is certainly the bunkering.

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“One shot that I’ve been trying to practice a bit more this week is the long bunker shot,” he said. “These bunkers are really, really big, and the way the faces are, the ball is running down the face into the middle of the bunker. You’re having to fly your bunker shots quite often about 20, 25 yards in the air to get to the front of the green and then release to the pin, so that’s also been something I’ve tried to adapt to this week.”

Because of the length of the course, many golfers will be coming into the greens with middle irons.  That means there’s a bigger chance to miss the putting surface and land in a bunker or in the rough around the green.

Rose has practiced for that eventuality also.

“Around the greens, I’ve been spending a lot of time chipping,” he added, pointing out that the rough was quite predictable in how the ball comes out of it. “I’m a lot more comfortable in this type of rough around the greens than I am some other types of rough.”

Rose thinks there will be some 6-under par rounds, but only for the golfer who is totally on his game that day.

“But doing that day-to-day-to-day, I don’t see that happening. I think that anything under par on this golf course is going to move you forward in the tournament,” he explained. “The guy who wins it probably is going to shoot something in the mid-60s one day and then from there just trying to keep it together in and around par and just trying to get those gains where you can.”

Next. Jordan Spieth is a long shot at the PGA Championship. dark

Justin Rose is playing in his 17th PGA Championship, and starts Thursday’s first round at 8:02 AM on the 10th hole playing with Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler.