Justin Rose bagged his second win in three starts on the PGA Tour at the weekend to guarantee his place in The Open at St Andrews next week.
Only a week ago in the Travelers Championship, he took a three-shot lead into the final round and collapsed on the back nine for a 75. In the AT&T at Aronimink on Sunday, he was five shots clear going to the back nine and found himself in a battle he didn't expect.
He lost another big lead. This time, he didn't lose the tournament.
Rose hit every green in regulation on the back nine, including the final one, and closed with seven straight pars for an even-par 70.
"I knew having not closed out last week it was important for me - just for myself - to do it today," Rose said after his one-shot victory over hard-charging Ryan Moore. "Still, it's never easy to close these things out, I'll tell you."
Staked to a five-shot lead at the turn after a 5-wood to tap-in range for eagle on the ninth hole, Rose had three-putt bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes - after having gone 274 holes without one on the PGA Tour - and just like that, the game was on.
Moore one-putted his last eight greens, including a 12-foot par putt on the 18th hole, for a Sunday-best 65 to make Rose work to the very end. Rose two-putted up a dangerous ridge on the tough 17th for par. And with the Fourth of July fireworks booming in the distance, he hit the fairway and green for one last par.
"I knew level par would get the job today," Rose said. "Every two-putt felt like hard work coming in, I've got to tell you. It was good fun. I felt very much in control of my emotions, and it's been a long week. But I'm very glad we've got to this point with a win."
Tiger Woods, the defending champion, shot a 1-over 71, marking the first time in 11 years that he didn't break par over four rounds in a regular PGA Tour event. He wound up 14 shots behind Rose, the most Woods has finished out of the lead since the 2006 Players Championship. "This was my U.S. Open the way the course was set up," Rose said.
He finished the AT&T National at 10-under 270 and earned $1,116,000, moving up to No. 2 in the FedEx Cup standings behind Ernie Els. Rose also will crack the top 20 in the world ranking, likely going to No. 16.
Woods left Aronimink in good spirits, despite his tie for 46th. It was the first time he finished a regular PGA Tour event out of the top 40 since he tied for 53rd in The Players Championship five years ago.
Even so, he hardly sounded worried. Woods hit the ball off the tee better than he has all year. He hit his irons decently enough, but his putting was simply atrocious. Woods took 120 putts for the tournament.
"It does feel good to hit the ball as well as I did this week," he said. "I just need to get my putter organized a little better and really work on my putter over there.”