By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 10/08/18 8:29pm
Justin Rose admitted he still has issues to resolve with his iron game after firing an erratic one-under 69 on day two at the PGA Championship.
Rose arrived at Bellerive with question marks over his fitness after pulling out of last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a back problem, although he defied the ailment to open with an impressive 67.
He revealed afterwards he was swinging at only “90 per cent” with his driver, but it was his irons he was battling in the second round as he mixed five birdies with four bogeys to close on four under par – six shots adrift of early clubhouse leader Gary Woodland.
“I’m happy with the way I scored considering how I played,” said Rose, who could go to world No 1 this week depending on how Dustin Johnson and defending champion Justin Thomas perform. “I played poorly today, really struggled, and I didn’t hit my irons well at all.
“To make birdies you’ve got to hit your irons well, obviously. I did a decent job of hitting the fairways on the front nine, creating the chances, but my iron play was off today. I really scrambled well, to be honest, I putted it pretty well and I got the ball to the hole.
“Statistically, I’m putting it well, chipping it well, driving it okay, and it’s just the iron play was where I was a bit off,” added Rose, who also admitted his inconsistency with his irons had been troubling him since June.
“I’ve been battling my iron play really for a couple months, I feel,” said the world No 3. “Even at the Scottish Open I haven’t been a hundred per cent happy with it. So I know what I want to do, I’m just not quite doing it yet.
“And then sometimes when you’re on the golf course it’s hard to know if you need to do more or less of what you’re trying to feel. I don’t know if I need to exaggerate or just turn it down.”
Rose’s playing-partner Jordan Spieth has also struggled for form this season and remains without a victory since last year’s Open, but he kept his hopes of a career Grand Slam of majors alive with a 66 which ensured he made the cut with plenty to spare on three under.
“It’s close, and it got closer,” said Spieth when asked how he felt about rediscovering his best form. “It’s just been progress in the swing. I went to Swing Motion and it cleared stuff up temporarily, but in fact it pushed me further away from what I should have been doing.
“So I spent literally two months nailing in the wrong thing and I’m trying to climb back out of it. And that’s unusual. I’ve never had that in my career, and normally I work on the right thing too much and have to back off and work again.
“So it’s tough to trust on the golf course. I had a tough time yesterday and today I had no choice, you have to trust it and started to clear up a bit of it. I just have to deal with it.
“But today was a lot of progress. I wasn’t sure going into the first tee, I thought that anything could happen today, but I lost one penalty stroke with a driver on 17, I’ve really given two strokes to the field there, which kind of hurts at the midway point. But it was a really solid round.
“I need something really special, but again just trying to progress each day. My expectations are lower than they are when I’m in form, certainly last year at this time and I’m okay with that, it’s just a process and I’ve got to be patient with it.”