124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

Equipment rewind

Justin Rose started the 2014 British Open at Royal Liverpool with only 13 clubs. Here’s why


Matthew Lewis

In returning to Royal Liverpool for this week's Open Championship, it also allows us to recall a truly bizarre equipment story from the last time the Open was played at this famed English course. Justin Rose arrived into the 2014 British Open as one of the favorites, his 16-1 odds were the same as those of Tiger Woods. As he teed it up for his first round, however, Rose was missing a critical club: his TaylorMade SLDR 430 driver.

This was not strategy on Rose’s part. He, in fact, was starting his round short-handed with just 13 clubs in the bag thanks to a truly unusual set of circumstances.

I was part of a small scrum that questioned Rose about the incident after his round.

Rose explained his caddie, Mark Fulcher, had two drivers built for friends and placed them in Rose’s bag. When Fulcher gave his friends the clubs, he mistakenly kept one of theirs and handed over his boss’ big stick.

OK, no big deal. Just go get the driver from the friends and all is well. Not so simple, as it turned out. The friends had left the premises and had made it back home to Bedford, some 175 miles away when Rose noticed the shaft in his driver wasn’t his.

“This morning when I picked up my bag there was a driver in the wrong spot in my bag,” Rose explained. “I picked it up and noticed that's not my shaft. So that shaft … that club should have been given to someone else. Mine was given to that person and driven down to Bedford. I had three drivers in my bag after yesterday. Two were taken out and given to these two gentlemen, and one was left in my golf bag, it just was the wrong one.”

Having a driver that far away with a 9:27 a.m. tee time is hardly ideal on the morning of a major championship. As Fulcher’s friends raced back to Liverpool, Rose started his round but wasn’t concerned about the missing club. “Fortunately, it didn't affect the game plan,” he said. “I was just trying to get it here by the seventh [a 480-yard par 4]. You have to see the funny side of that, really. Obviously when we made the call, the guy was coming straight back with it, I knew I would have it by the time I really, really needed it out there, toward the seventh and the back nine. The way the course was playing I knew I wasn't going to require the driver for a good couple of hours into my round.”

Indeed. Rose was one under first five holes before bogeying the par-3 sixth en route to an even-par 72. The driver arrived on the third hole and the 2013 U.S. Open champ had a full bag the rest of the way.

“It was a bit of a comedic start to the day, no doubt,” said Rose, who eventually finished T-23 in that year’s Open won by Rory McIlroy.

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Is it the British Open or the Open Championship? The name of the final men’s major of the golf season is a subject of continued discussion. The event’s official name, as explained in this op-ed by former R&A chairman Ian Pattinson, is the Open Championship. But since many United States golf fans continue to refer to it as the British Open, and search news around the event accordingly, Golf Digest continues to utilize both names in its coverage.

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