LA JOLLA, CA— It seemed like another tournament at the office for Justin Rose. Tremendous ball striking. Clutch putting. It was all on display in Rose’s wire to wire victory at Torrey Pines to claim his first Farmers Insurance Open.
But this was no ordinary victory for Rose. He was playing for his caddie, Mark Fulcher, who had to be sidelined from carrying the bag because of heart surgery. When Rose pointed to the camera after putting his second shot on the 72nd hole within three feet of the pin, he was talking to his caddie “Fooch.”
“My caddie, Mark Fulcher, he’s at home, he just had heart surgery,” said Rose. “So him not being on the bag and having his good friend Lordy, Gareth Lord, caddie for me. We’ve been staying in close communication with Fooch, and wanted to dedicate this win to him.”
Rose & Fooch Possess Special Player/Caddie Bond
The relationship between caddie and golfer is an intricate one. Both have to possess strong communication skills and knowledge of the game. But the golfer always has the last day.
Rose and Fooch were made for each other. Both are outgoing and enthusiastic. But when the pressure ramps up in a golf round, Rose can rely on his caddie to provide the insightful advice necessary to make a critical shot.
With Fulcher at the bag, Rose has won a major championship (2013 U.S. Open), an Olympic gold medal at the Rio Olympics and a crucial asset on those successful European Ryder Cup teams. Rose has shown affection for his caddie financially by giving him $1 million when he wins. This compensation was given to Fooch when Rose won at East Lake last September.
While the news was difficult related to Fooch’s surgery, Rose said before the Farmers Insurance Open that he was making progress.
“He’s doing well,” Rose said. “He is in his own room now up there, which is great. He’s got to stay in the hospital for another week or so just to continue to be checked out, but he’s making progress.”
No Fooch, No Problem for Rose
Fooch was replaced by Gareth Lord (or Lordy), who caddied Open Champion Henrik Stenson for many years.
Regardless of the caddie, Rose was on a mission to produce his best golf this week at Torrey Pines. With all four rounds in the 60s, the Englishman took advantage of a golf course that was playing soft.
But he also had to battle the adversity of the accomplished Adam Scott making a Sunday charge. It was clear Rose had some difficulties early in the fourth round by bogeying three of the first five holes. With the window open for an opportunity to come back, Rose’s ball striking and mental toughness slammed the door shut on Scott and the rest of the field. He birdied holes seven and nine, stopping the bleeding to right the ship to victory.
“I never lost the lead so I had to stay patient,” said Rose. “Definitely there were times in my career where I’ve had decent sized leads and you start to throw it away a little bit and you panic. I just knew I couldn’t do that today. I stayed calm, I stayed with it.”
With his 10th victory on the PGA Tour, Justin Rose moves to World No. 1. Since 2017, there has not been a more consistent golfer than Rose, who has always been a fixture at the top of the leaderboard in the tournaments he’s competed in.
“I worked really hard on my team,” says Rose. We tweaked a lot of my technique to try and help my back more than anything to try to get rid of the little niggles I was feeling all the time. I think that making those subtle changes kind of made us work hard and in a really good direction. I think we changed the blueprint of my swing and one there were health benefits, but two, I think technically I’ve gotten better over the last couple years for sure.”
The win at Torrey Pines was a long time coming. The last two years he held the 36 hole lead, only to blow it on the weekend. This year, it was a different story. His victory gives Rose over $50 million in career PGA Tour earnings, becoming the sixth golfer to do so.
But all of this is secondary to Rose’s primary motivation of winning. It was for Fooch, his caddie in recovery.
The ultimate gentleman Rose is indeed.