Mark Immelman takes a look at what we can learn from Justin Rose\'s performance in the WGC-Cadillac Championship

Strong winds played havoc with the field in the WGC-Cadillac Championship, which allowed the steady golf of Justin Rose to shine through, writes Mark Immelman.

The TPC Blue Monster at Doral – the famed venue that has played host to PGA TOUR events for a half a century. One of the preferred stops on the Tour, the Blue Monster has always attracted a top quality field and it boasts a Hall of Fame list of players who have triumphed around its venerable layout. 

Storylines abounded at this year’s tournament. The winds wreaked havoc with the players on day one and the notorious 18th hole proved an absolute beast as a 25-knot easterly wind blew from left to right and into the players. There were more bogeys, double-bogeys and triple-bogeys (a total of 42) than there were pars (30); the stroke average of 4.743 was higher than that for the par-5 first hole (4.7).

So, what can we learn from a few of the competitors who vied for the title in The WGC Cadillac Championship this week?

  • The Value of a Pre-Shot Routine: 

Justin Rose adopts a very diligent and disciplined approach to his game and nowhere is it more evident than in his pre-shot routine. He uses this routine, which does not vary at all, no matter the situation, not only to prepare for each shot but also to control his pace and ease his mind.

For example, when faced with the daunting tee-shot on the 18th hole, Rose slipped into his routine and made a very precise, disciplined practice swing. He lined up the shot, visualized his goal, made a convicted swing and launched the ball off down the safe right-hand side of the fairway.

The lesson in this example is that a purpose-filled pre-shot routine is essential to success as that routine brings a certain amount of comfort and it helps to alleviate the pressure of a tough situation. So take a leaf out of Justin Rose’s book and apply yourself and your concentration with a purpose-filled pre-shot routine on every shot.

  • Priorities: 

Everyone talks about the length that Bubba Watson hits and ball and the prodigious distances he moves the ball off the tee are impressive. His contending for the WGC title however was a function of his proficiency on the greens for the week. Bubba averaged 1.56 putts per green in regulation which was 2nd in the field.

Putting with that sort of efficiency is a sure-fire way to increase your birdie conversion. As the old adage goes (and Bubba’s performance is proof of the fact), “You drive for show and you putt for dough.” To make more dough, get out there and prioritize properly.

Spend less time on the range and spend some more time where it really counts; on the putting green.

  • Take advantage of the par fives:

“If you make threes on the Par Threes and fours on the Par Fives you have the nucleus for a great round and will make up a lot of ground.” I constantly remind my college golf team of this little ditty as I want it to be top of mind when they are out there competing.

In the Cadillac Championship this week, Justin Rose was 11-under on the par fives and 2-under on the par threes. Bubba Watson also made hay on the par fives, playing them, as Rose did, in 11 under. Rory McIlroy played the par fives in an astounding 15 under par, the equivalent of a birdie on every par five bar one. Incidentally McIlroy played the par threes in even par for the week.

In total the top three players in the field played the par fives in 37-under par and the par threes in 3-over par. Do you want to lower your scores? Then focus that little bit more on the par fives and the par threes; I guarantee an improvement in your scores if you can play those eight holes a round properly.

  • Never leave a putt short:

Both Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson play the game with similar styles as they hit each shot with gay abandon. There is one glaring difference between the two however – McIlroy did not leave on putt short as he came down the stretch and challenged Rose and by contrast, Watson did.

With a shot at the title if he finished with one birdie in the final two holes, Bubba was faced with a 14 foot putt for birdie on the 17th hole. His effort came up short in the middle of the hole. It’s a cliché I know, but “Never up, never in” does hold true. If you have a legitimate opportunity, give the putt a chance by swinging your putter freely enough to get the ball past the hole.

You will make more putts using this approach and if you do miss, you will at least be able to see the break required for the upcoming putt.

Play well and enjoy our great game.

  • MorgBoer

    That’s probably one of the most concise and accurate lists of DOs that I’ve ever read. Well done.
    I would also add to the list (Not learnable from the pros): Know the hole’s info: What’s the stroke and the distances to key objects (dog legs, bunkers, large trees, etc). I’ve found that when I know just those two things on the hole it makes quite a big difference in club and shot selection.