AVONDALE, La. — Whatever derailed Justin Rose’s game appears long gone now.
Sensing he needed to birdie the final two holes to keep the lead, Rose pulled it off with aggressive swings and clutch putts for a one-stroke victory over ex-Georgia Tech star Cameron Tringale on Sunday in the Zurich Classic.
“Earlier this year it looked impossible to win,” Rose said, referring to his three missed cuts and failure to finish better than 37th in his first five starts of 2015. “I’m very happy to have turned my game around.”
Rose completed 7-under-par 65 in the rain-delayed third round Sunday morning and closed with 66 at TPC Louisiana for his seventh PGA Tour title. He finished at 22-under 266, a record total on the course southwest of New Orleans that has played host to the city’s PGA Tour stop 10 times since 2005.
The Englishman has won at least once in six consecutive seasons, the second-longest streak on the tour behind Dustin Johnson’s eight in a row. He’s projected to jump from ninth to sixth in the world ranking.
Rose said his drastic improvement started two weeks earlier at the Masters Tournament, where he tied for second. It helped him in the Big Easy.
“I took my Masters performance with a huge amount of confidence,” Rose said, recalling in particular the sense of calm he was able to maintain down the stretch at Augusta National.
Playing aggressively on the soggy TPC Louisiana, Rose made six birdies in the final round and played the last 66 holes without a bogey.
Rose’s final two putts, from 10 and 13½ feet, allowed him to hold off Tringale, who birdied the18th for 65.
“I’m pleased,” said Tringale, who was looking to become the eighth first-time winner in the past 11 years in New Orleans. “To finish one back is still a pretty good week.”
It was the second week in a row a player from Georgia Tech or Georgia finished second, denying them of their first PGA Tour win. Ex-Bulldog Kevin Kisner lost in a playoff last week at the RBC Heritage.
Eric Compton, another former Bulldog looking for his first victory, shared the lead when third-round play was suspended on Saturday. He completed a third-round 68 on Sunday and shot 69 in the afternoon to finish 12th at 272.
Boo Weekley, who led after the first round, finished third at 20-under, and Jim Herman and Jason Day, ranked sixth in the world, tied for fourth at 19 under.
Weekley and Herman shot 65s and Day had 69.
Rose had to wait about a half hour before his closest pursuers completed their rounds, but allowed himself to soak up adulation from fans before the result was official.
“I obviously walked off the golf course feeling like I’d done enough,” Rose said. “The reception when I came off the golf course was I’d done enough. So it’s hard not to enjoy it.”
Rose began the final round tied with Day for the lead at 16-under.
Day said the conditions wore him down over the course of 32 holes Sunday.
“The early days and the hot days, and just the long days in general kind of finally caught up to me,” Day said. “I played great all week, but this final round just had a lot of mental errors.”
On the par-5 18th hole, with water to the right, Rose unloaded a 295-yard down the middle.
He then smacked a 3-wood 243 yards just left of the green and chipped over a sand trap to set up what would be his winning putt.