GOLF

Rose looks to recre­ate magic of ‘98 at Birk­dale

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Af­ter Justin Rose fin­ished fourth in the Bri­tish Open at Royal Birk­dale as a 17-year-old ama­teur in 1998, it seemed in­evitable that he would soon go on to win the Claret Jug. But he re­turns to the South­port links for this week’s cham­pi­onship hav­ing never sub­se­quently man­aged to match that per­for­mance as a pro­fes­sional.

It is lit­tle won­der that Rose, now 36, spoke of “un­fin­ished busi­ness” yes­ter­day as he pre­pared for Thurs­day’s first round, when he will go out in a group with for­mer Open cham­pion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Justin Thomas.

“It sur­prises me af­ter all these years that is still the best fin­ish,” he said of his per­for­mance in mis­er­able weather in 1998, when Mark O’Meara even­tu­ally won the ti­tle in a play-off against Brian Watts. Rose equalled the record low score for an ama­teur at The Open with a sec­ond-round 66, and there was a huge roar when he holed a pitch from the rough at the 18th on the Sun­day for a birdie to se­cure a tie for fourth place.

“I don’t want to say that if I don’t win this it’s go­ing to be a huge sort of hole in my ca­reer, but it was the one tour­na­ment that even be­fore I fin­ished fourth here as an ama­teur, I got to fi­nal qual­i­fy­ing at the age of 14 and cre­ated a bit of a story then.

“It’s def­i­nitely been a cham­pi­onship that I’ve had great mo­ments in. And to win it would kind of close the book in a way on my Open Cham­pi­onship story.” Rose-who warmed up for Birk­dale by at­tend­ing Roger Fed­erer’s vic­tory over Marin Cilic in the Wim­ble­don fi­nal on Sun­day-has had mixed re­sults since win­ning Olympic gold in Rio last year.

He was run­ner-up to Ser­gio Gar­cia at the Masters in April but missed the cut at the re­cent US Open. Hav­ing only ever won one ma­jor, at the US Open in 2013, Rose ad­mits he still uses his 1998 dis­play as a model.

“The free­dom I had that par­tic­u­lar week, the con­fi­dence I had in my short game, the in­no­cence in which I played the game, I think, is kind of still a model. “But, yeah, when I do look back I do marvel at how I was able to com­pete so closely down the stretch, and fin­ished within two shots of win­ning an Open Cham­pi­onship at the age of 17. “I guess for me it was a glimpse into what my po­ten­tial is. And hard work will cre­ate an­other chance here and there.” —AFP

ROYAL BIRK­DALE: Bri­tain’s Justin Rose plays a shot on the 10th hole dur­ing a prac­tice round ahead of the Bri­tish Open Golf Cham­pi­onship, at Royal Birk­dale, South­port, Eng­land yes­ter­day. — AP

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