Coming up Roses
The Sweet Swing of Justin Rose
An Interview with David Leadbetter

I started working with Justin Rose in the winter of 1997 when he and his dad, who had taught him the game, came over to Lake Nona. Even at 16, he had a tremendous amount of talent. He won a number of amateur events and was a Walker Cup player. Then he had that exceptional finish at the British Open in 1998, finishing fourth as an amateur!

He’s a very intelligent young guy, a hard worker with a good temperament. I think he struggled when he first turned pro. When you look back you would say that he probably turned professional too young—he was thrown in the deep end. He really got off to a bad start, missing a bunch of cuts. It was unfortunate because for a young player, I think he was badly managed. He was playing every week and he didn’t even have time to enjoy his great finish at the Open because he turned pro the next week.

And so he went through some hard times, but I think it actually made him mentally tougher—he realized how tough it was going to be. He started working a lot harder, started working out and working on his mind. We obviously worked very hard on his swing. I think Justin is going to be a really great young player. He’s won a couple of tournaments in Europe and I think playing in America is going to help him. I think American courses will actually suit his game more than European courses.

He’s a fairly tall, wiry lad and he has gotten stronger in the last couple of years. He’s developed a lot of strength in his legs and his shoulders have gotten broader. In the early days, he was just tall and lanky and had a lot of wasted motion. As typical with many young players, he had a big leg slide, the club was a little bit too long going back, and he sort of had to hang back on the ball through impact. We started to implement changes just to make his swing more solid. For instance, we really focused on a shorter, more compact swing so the club was more on plane and he was able to use the bigger muscles instead of driving the legs and using a lot of hands.

We do a lot of different drills—bread and butter drills. A lot of his tendencies and his problems have been in the early stages of the swing. So we have one drill where he starts about halfway back, stops, checks the position, and then actually hits the ball from there. If he gets into a good position halfway back, he can then just focus on really turning to complete the swing. It allows him to simplify everything.

He had already developed a swing when he came to Lake Nona. I was very conscience of the fact that he was playing tournaments so I wasn’t going to do a Nick Faldo, where we totally revamped everything and it took a couple of years. We had to do it in stages. Even up to a year ago he had these habits that really sort of stuck with him. Tall players have a tendency to take the club inside too much on the backswing, get the club across the line at the top. This winter, he made a real commitment. He really worked hard, worked on his swing, worked on his fitness and he came out swinging well. I expect him to have a good year.

His golf swing has certainly tightened up a lot. He is a good striker of the ball and is in good balance. He’s a very good long iron player. Some of that has got to do with height. Generally speaking, taller players have the advantage with the long irons because of their arch width and the height of their plane. He is also a great wedge player too—those are two good aspects that stand out with Justin—and he hits the ball long, which is a big necessity these days.

For him to break through, I think it’s a combination of a lot of little things. His putting has been a little inconsistent. He has been working hard on his short game and it is really tightening up in a lot of areas. When you look at statistics these days, some of them are a little bit tough to read, especially if you look at a player like Vijay Singh who was #1 last year and only hit just over half the fairways. But length is a factor and as I said, Justin is long. If he could hit 60-65% of the fairways, that’s great. But it’s really a matter of getting him to be controlled in his play, just sharpening his short game. I think if he can do that, he can make a big breakthrough. I fully expect him to win a tournament this year. I mean, he’s definitely got the quality to be a top ten player in the world, no question about it.

He is a really good kid. He has a great personality, great smile, and he’s really good with the public—we had to show him in the early stages of his career that you can’t stop and sign autographs forever. Now he is over here with his brother and girlfriend, which I know will boost his confidence. It’s not that I’ve adopted him, but we’re very close, and I expect great things from him in the years to come.


Site designed by Shahna Garg