Justin Rose will have a familiar face back on his bag as he bids for a first victory at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth after reuniting with Mark ‘Fooch’ Fulcher.
Fulcher was on his fellow Englishman’s bag for 11 years, helping him to win his maiden Major at the 2013 US Open, Olympic gold in Rio in 2016, and reach World No.1, before the pair went their separate ways in May 2019.
Rose and Fulcher had already been through a temporary separation while the caddie recuperated following treatment to repair the mitral valve in his heart in the March, but he returned in time for the Masters in April. Further health concerns put an end to their working relationship.
Announcing the news at the time, Rose wrote: “I have no doubts that we will stride up a 72nd hole late on a Sunday afternoon together in the future.”
That Sunday afternoon could come this week at the BMW PGA, a tournament Fulcher helped Billy Horschel win in 2021. The English looper has also caddied for Francesco Molinari since he and Rose parted ways, while Rose has worked with Gareth Lord, David Clark, and, most recently Josh Cassell.
“It just feels normal”
But Rose made the decision to split with Cassell after the FedEx Cup and, speaking exclusively to Today’s Golfer at Wentworth, said he knew it was time to get his long-time friend back on the bag.
“I came to the decision post FedEx but it had been rattling around in my brain for a few weeks prior to that, and it’s good to have him back – it was an easy decision,” the 43-year-old said. “You asking me about it almost catches me by surprise because, while we’ve only been back working together for a week or so – Fooch came out for some practice with me – it just feels completely normal.
“We were together for so long and had the appropriate amount of time apart as well, you know. We both had the opportunity to go and do different things, experience different things and learn, then come back together with the previous ten or eleven years done and dusted and with a new goal of seeing what else we can achieve. We’re not trying to rekindle anything or live up to what’s been in the past because we have new challenges and it should be fun.”
Rose said Fulcher brings “wisdom and is very good at seeing the big picture.”
“It’s not just about picking a club, it’s about the whole shooting match, and in the last week or so I’ve definitely been the beneficiary of some new things he’s learned, some new drills, and some new ways of working that are more performance-based than just technical. He’s just someone who is really invested in your game and career and can help push you because when the buck stops with you all the time motivation can be tricky. I know he’ll be there, right by my side every week ensuring we’re doing the little things that can be easy to overlook.”
The 11-time DP World Tour winner is hoping the return of his old friend can help him achieve a long-time goal very quickly with victory at Wentworth in the flagship event.
“Fooch won here with Billy Horschel a couple of years ago (read our interview with the 2021 champ), but winning this had been on the bucket list for us back in the day,” Rose continued. “He’s won it now, made it look easy, so it’s over to me to try and do the business and take advantage of having him back to help.”
For Fulcher, one of the most experienced and popular caddies on Tour having, the chance to work with his old friend again was just too good to turn down.
“I hadn’t thought about it at all, but as soon as we spoke it was an easy decision to make,” he said. “Not only is he my boss but he’s very close to my heart, too, and if we can enjoy a couple more special moments together on the course then it’ll be well worth it.”
‘Fooch’ has enjoyed an excellent career as a bag man having also caddied for major winners Laura Davies and Alison Nicholas on the women’s tour.
Trying to forget about Rome
The reunited pair traveled to Rome for Team Europe’s practice and bonding day on Monday and are set to experience their sixth Ryder Cup together at Marco Simone in a fortnight’s time, but that’s been put to the back of their minds… for now.
“Rome has disappeared for the time being,” Fulcher adds. “We had the day there, which was fantastic, but now it’s about trying to improve again and the Ryder Cup will become the focus again when we arrive in Italy on the Monday.”
That could prove easier said than done this week with all 12 of Team Europe’s players, along with captain Luke Donald and his vice-captains, in the field and grouped together across six different tee times for the opening two rounds (see all the BMW PGA tee times).
“Fooch is right, we’re back to business this week,” Rose agrees, “but when you do see your fellow Ryder Cup mates during this week – and we’ll see a lot of each other with the groupings – it just starts that bonding process sooner rather than later, which can only be helpful.”
Rose heads to Rome as the elder statesman of the European team, a position he isn’t taking for granted.
“It feels a little odd, but you have to honor where you are in your career,” he smiles. “It’s not something I’m forcing, feeling like there’s a pressure or having to come up with bits of wisdom all the time. It’s more that if someone has a question then maybe I’m best positioned to answer it.”
But for this week at least, he’ll be hoping Fulcher can help him find the answer to the many questions Wentworth’s West Course raises.
About the Author
Rob specializes in the DP World Tour, PGA Tour, LIV Golf, and the Ryder Cup, spending large chunks of his days reading about, writing about, and watching the tours each month.
He’s passionate about the equipment used by professional golfers and is also a font of knowledge when it comes to golf balls, golf trolleys, and golf bags, testing thousands down the years.
Rob uses a Callaway Paradym driver, TaylorMade M5 5-wood, TaylorMade P790 driving iron, Callaway Paradym irons (4-AW), TaylorMade MG3 wedges (52º, 58º), Odyssey Tri-Hot 5k Double Wide putter, and Callaway Chrome Soft X golf ball.