Travelers Notebook: Rose Blossoms Into A Champion

Justin Rose has been a name for a while now. As an amateur in 1998, he made a dramatic chip-in on the 18th hole to finish tied for fourth at the British Open. A week later, he turned pro at 17.

But Rose, now 29, waited 12 years for his first

PGA Tour

title, which came two weeks ago at the Memorial.


"It's been awhile, 160 events I think," he said Wednesday. "Certainly, that was longer than expected for me."

Rose spent his first few years as a professional focusing on the European Tour, where he has four career victories.

He has played in every tournament at TPC River Highlands since 2004, finishing third in 2005 and ninth in '07. He wasn't able to qualify for the

U.S. Open

, but he's still riding a wave of confidence from the Memorial victory.

"It takes a little pressure off," he said. "I've been saying recently I'm not trying to build a week, I'm trying to build a career. So it's nice to have it done, but it's not the end game for me."

Rose said it was a complicated decision to turn pro at 17, especially having stormed onto the scene with an unexpected performance at Royal Birkdale in 1998.

"The Open certainly [skewed] things, expectations-wise, always trying to live up to it, and trying to live up to everybody else's expectations," Rose said. "After [the Memorial], hopefully I'm not going to get ahead of myself. I'm trying to get better as a player and not get too wrapped up in what it might mean."


Rose was happy Wednesday after learning he had won the $10,000 prize for his charity, Central Florida Children's Home, by being closest to the pin Tuesday on what was called the 15 1/2 hole. The announcement was delayed while trying to contact Rose to name his favorite charity. He hit the ball 4 1/2 inches from the cup on the Travelers umbrella floating green in the pond that borders the 15th, 16th and 17th holes.

Convenient Flight


Travelers Championship

, it seems, is willing to pull out all the stops to make sure the players arrive with a smile. Adam Scott and defending champion

Kenny Perry

were among a group of pros who were flew to Connecticut on Monday on a chartered flight, courtesy of Travelers, after the U.S. Open in Pebble Beach, Calif.

"It was great," Scott said. "We put the caddies in the back — no. … It was very convenient, and I saw a lot of guys on there that I'm sure would have a second thought about playing this tournament if there wasn't a flight. So they're doing the right thing, and I'm really grateful for that and happy to be here."

The flight went from Monterey to Bradley International in Windsor Locks. There were about 80 people on board, including players, caddies and family.

First Tee Presence

St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center

donated three spots in the Celebrity Pro-Am to members of the First Tee of Connecticut. Fabio Colon, 18, of East Hartford; Allen Hansrisuk, 18, of Glastonbury; and Nicole Clemons, 16, of Manchester played with pro Scott Piercy. Hansrisuk was awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the National First Tee. He's going to


. "This was the first time our players participated in this," said Connecticut First Tee president and executive director David Polk. "It's a testament to the value of the program that's 10 years old because they're products of it." . . . Perry on dropping from 235 pounds to 205: "It was a big change in my diet, big change in life, basically. … Bubba Watson has played in only The Players Championship and the Memorial since May 9: "I'm feeling good," said Watson, who is tied with Dustin Johnson for longest driver on tour at an average of 304.5 yards. "I'm ready to get back to playing. Hopefully, by the end of the week, it'll be real good." Watson tied for sixth at the Travelers in 2008 and tied for 14th last year. ... The Connecticut Section PGA Golf Foundation worked with the Travelers Championship to have 10 pros host clinics at area courses Wednesday: Ellington Ridge Country Club, Dustin Garza; Fox Hopyard GC, NickTaylor; Indian Hill CC, Luke List; Lake of Isles,

Mark Brooks

; Lyman Orchards GC, John Bierkan; Rockledge GC, Cameron Tringale; Shuttle Meadow CC, Chris Wilson; Stanley GC, Cameron Percy; Tallwood CC,

Chris Rogers

; and CC of Waterbury, Jeff Gove.

What, No Back Flip?

Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, who played in the pro-am, was asked, "Are people on the first tee going to get to see the back flip?"

He responded, "Not intentionally, I might fall over after I swing or something, but the days of the back flip are over ... My goal now, keep the ball on the fairway."

Smith, 55, was famous for the back flip when he first took the field during games in his 19-year major league career.


's Chris Berman said he was originally supposed to be paired with Bode Miller and found out Wednesday he was with the Wizard,

Brad Faxon


Doug Flutie


"There was a trade made. I acquired maybe the best fielding shortstop in all of baseball, so all the ground balls I hit, Ozzie should be able to gobble up easily," Berman said. ... Singer

Michael Bolton

, on what playing in the Celebrity Pro-Am means to him: "Celebrity builds a platform to raise money and raise awareness and you have to use celebrity for that. ... Celebrity is a type of currency." . . . The team of pro

Brian Gay

and the Linehans — Jack, Rob and Tim — finished first in the Celebrity Pro-Am with a score of 18-under-par 52. Faxon's group weas second at 54.

Jim Altman, Mike Anthony and Zac Boyer contributed to this notebook.