Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Seventeen years ago, Justin Rose burst on the scene as a precocious teen battling for the Open Championship title.
Rose fired a 66 in the second round at Royal Birkdale and went on to share fourth place at the 1998 Open. He seemed destined to win and win often.
It took a while, but those inclinations have come to fruition.
Inclement weather plagued the Zurich Classic of New Orleans for three days and forced the final two rounds to be completed on Sunday. Rose put together rounds of 65 and 66 on the marathon final day to rally for the win.
His 13-under par total over those final two rounds was best in the field. Rose was one better than Jim Herman, who tied for fourth, and Whee Kim, who shared eighth, over the last 36 holes at TPC Louisiana.
The victory for Rose was his seventh on the PGA Tour, and he also has seven on the European Tour. The win also extended Rose's streak to six straight seasons with a win on the PGA Tour. Only Dustin Johnson - eight consecutive seasons - has a longer streak on tour.
Rose won twice on the European Tour in 2002 and again in 2007. He made his first Ryder Cup team in 2008, but didn't win again until 2010. Since that year, he has eight professional victories. Predicted early in his career, wins are now coming in bunches for the 34-year-old Englishman.
If you listened to Rose talk afterward, this victory may have been the most unexpected of them all.
"I think there's a couple of things I'm really proud of. Obviously, that's six straight years with a win. Earlier this year, it looked impossible to win. I was struggling with my game, and when you are struggling with your game, sometimes winning seems very far off. So I'm very happy to have turned my game around the last three or four weeks," said Rose, who was coming off a runner- up finish at the Masters.
When Rose made his final birdie effort on the 18th, Rose let out a scream reminiscent of one he might make after a big putt at the Ryder Cup. He needed that birdie as well since Cameron Tringale also birdied the final hole to end one back.
Rose jokingly flexed his muscle walking off the green, but he was really showing off the Zurich logo on his sleeve as he is an ambassador for the tournament's sponsor.
While Rose was slightly joking about the muscle flex, there was little to joke about his golf game over the weekend. Rose played the final 66 holes bogey- free.
"That's probably a record for me. Glad I didn't know that because that kind of stuff gets in your head," Rose joked.
Maybe he will bogey his first hole this week to end that streak, but it won't matter as much because it is a match play tournament.
Rose won the title of this week's event in 2012, and coming off his win this past weekend, it would be a surprise if Rose joins Tiger Woods and Geoff Ogilvy with multiple wins at the World Golf Championship-Match Play Championship.
MATCH PLAY OVERHAUL
After years of angst about the top players losing early in the WGC-Match Play Championship, officials finally changed the format to keep those players around longer.
This week marks the first year in which a round-robin format will be used for the first three days. The 16 pod winners will advance to Saturday, which will have the round of 16 and quarterfinals. Both the semifinals and final are on Sunday.
So, instead of four of the top-five players in the world losing in the first or second round, everyone is guaranteed three matches as the four players in each pod will play one another to determine who advances.
Television officials are happiest about having the best players around longer. They couldn't control two players not being there, though. Woods, a three-time Match Play champion, failed to qualify, and Phil Mickelson withdrew from the event late Sunday due to unspecified reasons.
Those two may drive television ratings, but that won't be the case this week. Instead, the winners of the last five majors - Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy (Open Championship and PGA Championship) and Jordan Spieth - will have to carry that banner this time around.
With the new format, all four will get plenty of air time as will guys like Rose, defending champion Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler to name a few.
A new format, a new date (moved from February) and a new location (TPC Harding Park in San Francisco) will help drive ratings. But more change is coming next year with another new location (Austin, Texas) and another new date (two weeks before the Masters).
Change is good sometimes. Too much change can be a problem. We'll see how the action plays out this weekend with a prime time finish thanks the new site on the West Coast.
* There is nothing surprising about Lydia Ko's repeat win at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. It's already the second event she won in back-to-back years (2012-13 CN Canadian Women's Open). The surprising stat is that Ko has made 50 consecutive cuts on the LPGA Tour, including 15 starts that came while she was still an amateur.
* One of the best, most unknown streaks on the PGA Tour came to an end on Friday when Fredrik Jacobson three-putted his first hole. That ended a streak of 542 consecutive holes without a three-putt.