Rozner: Vibe still strong as Rose rides into Medinah

  • Justin Rose put in a long session on the driving range Tuesday for the BMW Championship at Medinah Country Club.

    Justin Rose put in a long session on the driving range Tuesday for the BMW Championship at Medinah Country Club. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Justin Rose was a big reason Team Europe came from behind to beat the U.S. at the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club.

      Justin Rose was a big reason Team Europe came from behind to beat the U.S. at the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Team Europe members douse Justin Rose with champagne following their victory over the U.S. in the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah. Rose said as he arrived this week for the BMW Championship, all those happy memories came flooding back.

      Team Europe members douse Justin Rose with champagne following their victory over the U.S. in the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah. Rose said as he arrived this week for the BMW Championship, all those happy memories came flooding back. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/14/2019 3:51 PM

When last we saw shots fired in anger at Medinah, it was Team Europe spraying American supporters with corks, not to mention all manner of alcohol from the bridge off the 18th green, as the visitors won the Ryder Cup in the most dramatic finish ever in the series.

And as much as Ian Poulter became the face -- and eyes -- of Team Europe, it was Justin Rose who really saved the final day for the Europeans as they staged the greatest comeback on foreign soil in the history of the tournament.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

As the sun set on Team USA that night, a trembling Rose stood alone on the 18th green, soaked in champagne and drinking in the sight of his raucous teammates.

When he arrived this week, it was his first time on the property since that night.

"It hit me right away. I thought about a lot of things from that week as we drove in. You go right past 18 fairway," Rose said. "That brought back a lot of memories."

For those too stressed to remember the events of that day, the Europeans were down 10-6 heading to Sunday after collecting the final 2 points Saturday night, and had fought back to down 11-10 when Rose made a huge par save on 16 that kept him alive.

That's when he dropped a bomb.

After Phil Mickelson nearly chipped in on the par-3 17th, a shot that would have clinched the match, Rose made a 40-foot birdie putt from the back of the green that squared his game with Mickelson.

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It was traveling fast enough to reach Wrigleyville had it not hit the cup and it was the defining moment of the Ryder Cup, the shot that really turned the tide and gave the Europeans the belief that they could actually pull it off.

The Rose reaction was bordering on angry, the way he looked at the American fans who had been so loud just moments before when Mickelson almost ended the match and -- for all intents and purposes -- the Ryder Cup for Europe.

"Every putt is important. The one I made on 16 to halve the hole and stay one down with two to play was huge," Rose said. "When I made that putt on 17, I wanted to run around the green and high-five everyone and go crazy, but I knew I had to get to 18 and play the hole.

"I took a very slow walk to 18 just to try to compose myself. I knew I couldn't lose it completely there on 17.

"But it was kind of a defiant celebration. Sort of the 'It's not over yet' moment."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Tied going to 18, it was a match the Europeans had to have.

"I had 9-iron in from the left rough on 18 and the wind was blowing in from the right side. I knew that because of that giant American flag behind the green," Rose laughed, remembering an enormous flag that still resides there. "I held up a little 9-iron into the wind and dropped it to about 12 feet.

"Phil hit a shot that looked perfect, but it hit and skipped to the back of the green. (After his third shot) Phil was just inside me on the same line for par, so I had to make mine for birdie, or he was going to make his and halve the match.

"I knew it was my moment. Rory (McIlroy) was there. Poulter was there. Darren Clarke was there. So many teammates gathered around the green.

"I mean, I've had my share of Ryder Cup points, but Poulter always got the big moments. I knew this was mine."

Rose drained it to win the match, a match that tied the Cup at 11-11 and the Europeans were on their way to a 14½ to 13½ victory.

"So I make the putt and I'm going to scream and jump," Rose said, "and as I turn to run to my teammates, Phil is standing right there behind me, sneaking in to see the line, and it was like, 'Oh, hey Phil.' So I kind of had to wait to celebrate.

"A lot of people remember the putt on 17, but you lose 18 and the putt on 17 doesn't mean anything, so for me as a pro, the birdie on 18 to win the match was the most satisfying thing.

"Clearly, it came at a pivotal point. For people watching on TV, they say that was the, 'Oh dear, the Europeans are looking good.'

"What's funny is my memories are more so from watching video than actually picturing it myself. In the moment, it's so intense and you're so focused. You're trying to breathe through it and survive the moment.

"You're not just walking around smelling the roses."

When I mentioned that I remembered him shivering on the 18th green after Martin Kaymer had clinched the Ryder Cup, with team Europe partying in the other guys' stadium, Rose played right over the top.

"I know I was shaking a bit on 18 before that putt, something I don't think I ever felt," Rose said. "It's bigger than you and it's bigger than golf. It's for all of Europe and your teammates, and you only get to do that once every two years.

"That's why it's so big when you win and so big when you lose.

"It was the 'Miracle at Medinah.' Really, we had no business winning that day. It was just one of those days where it all went our way."

The Chicago crowds were tremendous for the home team that week, and not so much for the visitors, something the Europeans still talk about.

So what does Rose remember about the gallery?

"Um … ," Rose offered, before pausing for a full 10 seconds. He stared off into the distance, searching for the right words.

Finally, he said, "It was fun. Yeah. It was fun to play. Let's leave it at that."

Fair enough.

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