By Mark Lamport-Stokes
(Reuters) - Newly crowned U.S. Open champion Justin Rose has barely had a moment to pause for breath since he clinched his maiden major title but the English world number three has been determined to honor commitments previously made.
Long regarded as one of the most popular figures in a game known for its camaraderie and innate sense of fair play, Rose never considered skipping this week's PGA Tour event in Cromwell, Connecticut - despite the temptation to rest.
While many of his peers would have preferred to spend time away from the U.S. circuit after landing a first major victory, Rose did not want to waver from his initial plan for a three-week run, starting with last week's U.S. Open at Merion.
As a result, he teed off as expected at the Travelers Championship where he has impressively moved into contention after the first two rounds, all the while having to cope with plenty of fatigue after a hectic start to this week.
"I still don't feel like I'm 100 percent with my body," Rose told reporters on Friday at the TPC River Highlands where he has carded scores of three-under-par 67 and 68 to sit five strokes behind pacesetting American Bubba Watson.
"Getting up this morning was a tough one, the night was very, very short. I'm just trying to honor the plan as best I can. Honor what's been working for me so well."
Rose began this week with a whirlwind media tour in New York City, where he appeared on several talk shows, and also announced his decision to link up with the agent who represents Tiger Woods, Mark Steinberg of Excel Sports Management.
"It's a decision I made quite some time ago and things take some time to figure themselves out," Rose said of his change in management company. "The last few months have been things working themselves out.
"I'm grateful to 4Sports for the good six years I had with them, but with me playing so much here in the States and where my game was going, I felt like it was a decision that I wanted to make to move on."
UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT
As for the talk shows, five-times PGA Tour winner Rose was happy to bask in his brief moment under the spotlight in what he described as "the world's biggest, brightest city".
He added: "To sort of be in the hustle and bustle for a day was fun. I was just doing my best to try to soak in being the U.S. Open champion. Went on some great shows, shows I've seen on TV. To be a part of it was a slightly surreal moment too."
Asked what had underpinned his decision to compete in this week's Travelers Championship, Rose replied: "It's important for me to play this week and next week, and get some competitive rounds under my belt as the U.S. Open champion.
"So when I get to the next major as well I'm absolutely ready. The novelty in a sense has worn off and I can try to accomplish the next one. I think everyone was grateful that I turned up. It never crossed my mind not to.
"The way I set up my preparation for the U.S. Open, I'd set it up as a three-week run, mentally just trying to stay fresh for three weeks ... I knew I was also playing two tournaments on the back end of the U.S. Open as well."
Rose's emotional two-shot victory at Merion Golf Club on Sunday was the culmination of a long and often difficult journey as a touring professional, starting badly with 21 consecutive missed cuts on the European Tour and spanning 15 years.
Through it all, Rose handled the highs and lows with remarkable poise and grace before he won four times worldwide in a breakthrough 2002 season.
In his eyes, though, his biggest turning point came when he clinched his first title on the U.S. PGA Tour at the 2010 Memorial Tournament.
"I had won golf tournaments around the world, but not until I won on the PGA Tour did I start to really develop that depth of confidence," said the 32-year-old Englishman. "Winning the Memorial was a fantastic win, getting that monkey off my back.
"Every time I was in the States I had to answer questions about this is your 120th start, or whatever it was, and you haven't won, so it was nice to get that out of the way."
Two weeks later, Rose won the AT&T National and he has since gone on to triumph wire-to-wire at the 2011 BMW Championship before claiming his first World Golf Championships crown at the 2012 Cadillac Championship.
"That's been my progression," he said. "That's where I've developed more of the confidence and the ability to get me to this point. It's definitely been a slow, slow journey and it's taken its time, but it feels great to have gotten there."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Ian Ransom)