Olympic champion Rose has a date with Open destiny
Tennis

Olympic champion Rose has a date with Open destiny

18 July 2017 / 11:36
Olympic champion Justin Rose can't escape his place in history this week.
justinroseGettyImages-1294279Everywhere he turns at Royal Birkdale there are photos of him, as a 17-year old, chipping in on the 18th hole to finish in a tie for fourth at The Open Championship in 1998.
 
Remarkably, despite success in Rio and a major title at the US Open in 2012, it remains his best-ever finish in his home major.
 
However, the world number 12 is striding with purpose around parched fairways and verdant greens that hold such special memories.
 
And, 25 years after Sir Nick Faldo became the last English golfer to lift the Claret Jug, he insists there is reason for his optimism.
 
"This is the tournament I've dreamed about since I was a boy," he said.
 
"You'd take an Open Championship anywhere but Royal Birkdale would be extra special - a real full-circle moment.
 
"Obviously my Open record doesn't look so good but I've had some outside chances and I feel I'm in the place to put all those past performances behind me and refocus on a good week.
 
"It surprises me after all these years that is still the best finish, so maybe there is unfinished business for me.
 
"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 to win it would kind of close the book in a way on my Open Championship story.

"However, I've got plenty of years to try to tick it off. There's no rush, but certainly I'm into the do-it-now phase of my career.
 
"When I look back I do marvel that I was able to come within two shots of winning an Open at the age of 17. I guess it gave me a glimpse into what my potential was.
 
"I played with such freedom that week, had such confidence in my short game and I played with a bit of an innocence. It's still the model for me, it's when I play my best golf.
 
"When I turned pro, that innocence was quickly taken away from me. I missed all those cuts and the game suddenly became really difficult. It was a hard achievement for me to live up early in my career."
 
Rose's brilliant wedge shot in front of the clubhouse is not only immortalised in photos around Birkdale but in Lego, artist Jared Jacobs recently recreating in moment for American broadcaster NBC.

And he admits it impressed his young children almost as much as his Olympic gold.

"There's a lot of experience required to play links golf. I think it's a form of golf you can learn to love over the years, if it's not something you feel immediately," he added.
 
"The length of the golf course isn't really a big deal. It's about creativity, strategy and course management, which maybe suits older players with more patience."
Justin Rose gold medal Rio 2016If Rose wanted to see the perfect example of a career that still blossoms when most are looking for an easier life, he certainly got it when watching Roger Federer win a record ninth Wimbledon title as a royal box guest on Sunday.
 
"I've always found it a bit easier to learn from other sportsmen than I have from golfers," added Rose.
 
"He took six months off and missed certain sections of the year in order to take advantage of his best opportunities, that's incredibly smart for an ageing athlete. 
 
"You do run into more trouble than -- you don't quite have as much resilience as when you're 17 years old. I focus much more on the recovery side now and I work hard on my fitness.
 
"Roger is the sporting athlete I look up to and can try and model. Everything he does is pretty much spot on, the way he handles himself, the grace in which he plays the sport I think is incredible."

By James Toney, Sportsbeat

Sportsbeat 2017

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Join the Team GB Club today, check it out right here
Join the Team GB Club today, check it out right here