Golf Insider: Justin Rose can stay on trend at Muirfield

England's Rose has won't be winning any fashion plaudits with last week's plaid prize, but trophies and cheques are another story....

We’ve all had that feeling of having to do something you’d rather not but ending up delighted that you did.

That romcom you wouldn’t ordinarily cross the street for but turned out to be a guilty pleasure. Or the work night out with the boss you thought hated your guts.

Well, Justin Rose must have felt a little like that when he collected his first-place cheque at last Sunday’s Fort Worth Invitational.

Emerging victorious from a tournament you were only playing because you had to fulfil an obligation and pocketing $1.278 million for your troubles has to go down as a win-win in anyone’s book, even if Rose did have to suffer wearing the champion’s plaid blazer as part of the package at Colonial.

during the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational at Colonial Country Club on May 27, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas.

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More importantly, the win will have definitely provided the Englishman, now world number three, with an extra spring in his step as he journeyed north from Texas for one of his favourite tournaments, this week’s Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, where he’s 12/1 to win again.

Yes, it’s that time of year when the golfing world sets its gaze firmly on Dublin. Dublin, Ohio, that is, and the annual trip to Jack Nicklaus’s 120-player invitational event on the first weekend after Memorial Day, the traditional start of the American summer.

It is another one of those weeks on the PGA Tour to get the juices flowing, featuring one of strongest fields in the world so far in 2018, with Rose one of eight of the world’s top-10 ranked players on parade for the iconic Nicklaus’s home-state shindig.

DUBLIN, OH – MAY 31: General view of the green on the 18th hole during the third round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at Muirfield Village Golf Club on May 31, 2014 in Dublin, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Only No.4 John Rahm and No.9 Brooks Koepka, last week’s runner-up in Fort Worth, will be missing but no-one will be happier about returning to Muirfield Village more than Rose.

The inaugural and reigning Olympic champion won the Memorial in 2010 and has six top-10 finishes here, including two second places, the last of which was on his last appearance in 2015. And the way he played in Texas last week points to a joyous reunion with the course this weekend.

Rose struck the ball beautifully at Colonial, leading the field in strokes gained from tee-to-green to win by three strokes from US Open champion Koepka, who must be wondering how he shot a closing 63 in the final pairing and still lost out to his playing partner.

It was quite the final group, Koepka firing every shot in his considerable arsenal only for Rose to match him almost all the way, his six-under 64 on Sunday good enough to reach 20 under par for the week and hold on for a still-comfortable margin of victory.

Afterwards he described his round as the probably the best ball-striking performance of his career, citing his play in 2012 and 13 as the only time it came close.

And 2013 was the year he won the US Open at Merion.

Fort Worth was Rose’s ninth PGA Tour win and comes during another red-hot streak in 2018 which has seen no missed cuts in 11 starts, including the non-sanctioned Hero Challenge, that have garnered nine top-25 finishes, six top-10s and five top-fives including last Sunday’s win.

That run has also produced 24 rounds in the 60s, including last week’s pairs of 64s and 66s, a further pointer to the 37-year-old’s imperious form and impressive consistency.

To think he would have been at Wentworth last week, playing his home European Tour’s flagship event the BMW PGA Championship but for a PGA Tour rule that stipulates members must play a new event they have not participated in for the past four years.

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Already commited to a stint in Europe after next month’s US Open at Shinnecock Hills before returning to the States to contest the strong August-September schedule time was running out.

“If I didn’t play this week, I probably wasn’t going to fulfill my obligation with that… So it’s all turned out to be good timing,” Rose said.

He will tee off on Thursday in the company of colleagues who share his affinity with Muirfield Village, defending champion Jason Dufner, priced 50/1, and five-time Memorial winner Tiger Woods, available at 18/1, who is looking to confirm his resurgence from a near career-ending back injury by adding PGA Tour win number 80 to his resumé after two top-fives this season.

Of those travelling to Ohio from Wentworth for an event with an $8.9m prize fund which outguns the European Tour’s still lucrative $7m Italian Open, the second event of its Rolex Series, Rory McIlroy will feel he has most to prove after yet another tournament in which his inconsistencies over four rounds have cost him the victory he craves to springboard into the US Open.

during a practice round prior to The Memorial Tournament Presented By Nationwide at Muirfield Village Golf Club on May 29, 2018 in Dublin, Ohio.

From a 65 around the West Course last Friday in which the Northern Irishman looked every inch the best and most naturally talented golfer on the planet to return to the mere mortality of a 71, 70 weekend, McIlroy’s drop in performance levels was as alarming as it was mystifying. And yet, it was still good enough to claim a runner-up finish and almost force a play-off with eventual winner Francesco Molinari with an eagle putt at the 72nd hole.

With a tie for fourth on his last appearance at Muirfield Village and a win at Bay Hill in March at the other great PGA Tour invitational, the Arnold Palmer, McIlroy looks well primed at 12/1. If only he had some of the consistency that Justin Rose produces week after week after week.

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