Justin Rose got his mistake out of the way one hole early and won the Quicken Loans National in a playoff Sunday over Shawn Stefani.
Tied for the lead as he played the 18th hole at Congressional, Rose tried to hit through two trees left of the fairway and overturned the shot. It ran down a bank and into the water, and he had to hole a 15-foot bogey putt just to stay in the game.
That proved to be the biggest shot he hit all day.
Behind him, Stefani made bogey on the 17th and narrowly missed a birdie putt on the 18th to set up the first playoff in the eight-year history of this event.
And then it was Stefani who essentially repeated Rose’s mistake on the first extra hole at No. 18.
After taking a drop because the grandstands blocked his view of the green, he wanted to play his low punch to the right side of the green. His shot also had too much turn and bounded into the water. Rose hit the middle of the green from the fairway and two-putted for par. Stefani made double bogey.
It was Rose’s first win since the U.S. Open last summer at Merion, and it felt like he won another U.S. Open as tough as Congressional played. With putting surfaces that had a brown tinge to them even before the leaders teed off, and thick rough all week, it was a far stronger test than when the Open was held in soggy conditions in 2011.
“Congressional got its reputation back after the U.S. Open,” Rose said. “I really enjoy this type of golf and this type of test. I think it tested all of us. I’m delighted.”
Rose and Stefani each closed with a one-under 70 – only six players broke par in the final round – and finished at four-under 280.
It was only the second time this year that the winning score was higher than the 36-hole lead (6 under). That also happened at Torrey Pines, which also hosted a U.S. Open.
Despite his blunder on the 18th, Rose earned his second chance.
He went 14 straight holes without making a bogey. Along with the 15-foot bogey putt he made on the 18th, he saved par on the 17th with an eight-foot putt.
Patrick Reed could have used some of that gritty play.
Reed, who started the final round with a two-shot lead, didn’t even finish in the top 10. He still had a two-shot lead at the turn, only to start the back nine with consecutive double bogeys on his way to a 41. He closed with a 77 and tied for 11th.
Seven players had a share of the lead at one point in the final round, and once Reed began his meltdown, Rose took over. He made birdie on No. 11, the toughest hole all week at Congressional, and used a fairway metal to gouge out of deep rough and onto the 14th green to avoid dropping a shot.
Stefani, whose only major was at Merion last year, plodded along like a U.S. Open veteran with one par after another, he joined Rose in the lead with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 16th. But he couldn’t hold on, and was in trouble right away in the playoff by pulling his tee shot into the trees.
So many others fell back.
Brendon Todd was tied for the lead until a double bogey in the water on the 10th. Marc Leishman three-putted for bogey on No. 7 and made bogey on the easiest par four at Congressional. Brendan Steele made a late rally, only to take on too much from the rough on the 18th and find the water for double bogey.
Much like Rose, Steele also got a reprieve, though the stakes were different.
This was the first British Open qualifier on the PGA Tour – the leading four players not already exempt from the top 12 at Congressional get into Royal Liverpool next month.
Stefani earned one spot as the runner-up. Charley Hoffman (69) and Ben Martin (71) each birdied two of the last three holes to tie for third. Even with a double bogey, Steele got the last spot with a 71 that put him in a three-way tie for third with Andres Romero and Todd, who already is exempt. Steele earned the spot over Romero because he has a higher world ranking. Romero closed with a 68, the low score in a final round when the scoring average was 73.7.
Rose goes to No. 7 with the victory, his second in the tournament hosted by Tiger Woods, who missed the cut. Rose won in 2010 when it was played at Aronimink.