Justin Rose: From leading amateur to world number one

When Justin Rose missed the 21

consecutive cut at the beginning of his professional career, he must have thought success would never come.

But fast-forward 20 years and the Hampshire ace woke up this morning with a major title, Olympic gold medal and now the world number one ranking.

If perseverance was personified, it would be Rose – a gritty player with a ferocious desire to win and focus to improve. As he showed at Rio 2016, no-one can compete with him when he is at his best.

At 38, he has reached the summit of the game, becoming the 22nd player and fourth Englishman to do so. But in many ways, this feels just like the beginning of what he could achieve.

Rose blooms

Sandy Lyle, a two-time major champion, can still recall the roar he heard erupt across Royal Birkdale at The 1998 Open.

It was not for him. Or for the eventual champion Mark O’Meara. Instead, it was an English amateur who captivated the world with his daring display.

Amateurs are not supposed to challenge the game’s elite at the majors. Rose did. He eventually finished in a tie for fourth, one shot off Tiger Woods, and two off the win after memorably holing a chip shot on the final hole.

Britain had a new superstar, one to challenge USA’s domination of the majors.

“I went completely numb when that ball went in,” Rose said.

“It was a pretty special ending, you couldn’t have written it any more dramatically. “

First taste of success

When Rose left Royal Birkdale, he turned professional immediately but quickly found the going tough – missing 21 straight cuts. At the end of the 1999 season he lost his playing card and had to fight through qualifying school to stay professional.

Thankfully his form quickly improved. In 2001, he secured back-to-back second-place finishes and a year later in South Africa, the country of his birth, he won for the first time.

The Alfred Dunhill Championships has been won by the likes of Ernie Els, Adam Scott and Charl Schwartzel but the event was in its infancy when Rose took home the crown – winning by two shots from Mark Foster.

The US invasion

Rose won seven more times on the European and PGA Tours but a first major title continued to elude him well into his third decade.

Six further top-tens came as well as two Ryder Cup successes but, for the top players, it is all about winning one of the game’s four biggest prizes.

Then came the 2013 US Open. Rose was two shots off Phil Mickelson going into the final round at Merion but he kept his cool and fired a final-round 70 to finally get his hands on a major.

"It feels fantastic,” he said.

“I committed myself to the process this week. I committed myself to putting a strategy in place that I hoped would work in five-to-10 years in delivering major championships.

“And I tried to strike on that feeling the first week out, first time I tried and tested it to come out with the silver. And it feels absolutely amazing.”

Britain’s golden boy

With golf back on the Olympic menu for the first time since 1904, Rose knew he could make history at Rio 2016.

He chucked himself into the Olympics head first, attending a plethora of different sports as a fan before his time to shine arrived and a solid first three days left him in a strong position.

A gold medal was in reach and, with the whole of Brazil captivated by his stunning final-round battle with Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, he grasped it.

The pair were level coming down the 72nd hole but Rose pitched a beautiful approach shot to within three feet. Stenson could not live with it and Rose tapped in for the win.

“It’s a dream come true,” Rose said.

“I’ve been thinking about Rio for a long, long time. I’ve been dreaming about coming here for a few years now. I was hoping my ranking would allow me to compete in the Olympic Games.

“I came here in good form and I felt excited about competing, excited about giving it 100%.

“Then when I actually got down to Rio and experienced the whole vibe of the Olympics, to come out of it with a medal is incredible.

“To come out of it with gold, unbelievable.”

Reaching the summit

Rose’s consistency since ruling Rio has been incredible. He has won three times in the last 12 months and achieved a further eight top-ten finishes on the PGA Tour.

At the US Open he was in contention until fading to tenth while he recovered from a disappointing first two rounds to finish in a tie for second at The Open in July.

The ranking points have been building and building. And, even though he lost in a play-off to Keegan Bradley at the BMW Championship this weekend, it was enough to finally see him reach the top of the world rankings.

“It's boyhood dream stuff, something I am incredibly proud of," Rose said.

"It's been a good stretch of golf. I've played solidly over the past year. I'm delighted to get to the top.” Sportsbeat 2018