By Andrew Both
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Justin Rose banished the demons of his final-round freeze at Hartford last week by grinding out a tense one-stroke victory for the $6.2 million AT&T National on Sunday.
The 29-year-old Briton, who blew a three-stroke lead to crash out of the Travelers Championship, all but squandered a five-stroke lead on the back nine, but steadied to see off a late charge from American Ryan Moore at the Aronimink course.
"It's never easy to close these things out," Rose told reporters after parring the final seven holes and sinking a two-foot putt to seal victory with an even-par 70.
"Having not closed out last week, it was important to do it today. I really felt I put into play the lessons I learned at Hartford. I didn't feel like nerves got the better of me the whole weekend."
He and Moore, who capped a round of 65 with a 12-foot par putt on the last, also earned late exemptions into next week's British Open at St Andrews.
"It was a bit of a grind coming in," added Rose. "Every two-putt felt like hard work.
"I had it going nicely on the front nine and then it probably got closer than it should have with two slack three-putts on 10 and 11.
The unheralded Englishman missed out on a start at St Andrews five years ago as the first alternate but now returns as the Tour's form player.
"How can you not love St Andrews?" Rose said. "You've just got to stand on the first tee there and you feel you're part of something special.
"I'm going to do my preparation while it's nice and quiet and then spend the weekend back in London."
Rose said he was now enjoying the pressure of being a contender after withering in his earlier playing days.
"Playing today is a lot easier than grinding to make cuts, especially the way I had it, missing 21 in a row," he said, recalling dark days during his start as a professional on the European Tour 12 years ago.
"Every time I had a chance to make a cut, cameras would appear out of the trees and suddenly I would feel the heat.
"Playing under this sort of pressure is exciting. It's something you've got to embrace and enjoy.
"I feel like I've had two or three careers -- the young kid, then the journeyman and the working my way back to being the player I wanted to be in the first place."
(Editing by Justin Palmer/Ian Ransom)