Justin Rose may feel St Andrews owes him one, even though he does not quite admit that Open Championships at the home of golf are his bogey events.
Rose seems perfectly placed to alter that next week, a second successive round of 66 at Gullane keeping alive his hopes of successfully defending the Scottish Open.
Rose did not qualify for the St Andrews Open of 2000. Five years later, he was the first reserve but did not receive a call. In 2010, Rose found himself on the wrong side of a hugely important draw and missed the cut. This run is even stranger given Rose’s success as an amateur in the 1997 St Andrews Links Trophy.
“Winning the Open in general would mean the world to me,” Rose said. “It’s the one championship that I’ve dreamed about winning more than any other, because you know it’s the pinnacle of golf for a British player and I think to do it at St Andrews? It doesn’t get any better than that.
“St Andrews is one of those places where you can be the only person around but you feel like people are watching you. It’s just got that aura about it, it’s got atmosphere, it’s got history. It’s one of those rare places in the world which is something special. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up, it’s just got that magic appeal.”
Rose’s general Open record is curious. His best finish remains the tie for fourth he secured as an amateur, at Birkdale in 1998. And yet, in his home country there is a legitimate argument for Rose not being afforded the credit he deserves for a run that has seen him win at least once on the PGA Tour in each of the past six years.
“When I come back here, I’ve always had really good support,” he said. “I’ve always had support since that Open at Birkdale. The crowd have always been good to me. I’ve always felt that goodwill to play well.
“The rest, the under-the-radar stuff, I don’t worry about that. I’m not trying to promote myself. I’m just happy to go about my business. I would love if the extra attention came as a result of what I’m trying to achieve. I definitely feel like in America over the last few years my – maybe notoriety is the right word – has increased a lot.”
Rose’s preparation for his latest tilt at the Claret Jug included the hosting of the Costa Smeralda Invitational in Sardinia, immediately after the US Open. Stars of football, athletics and cricket were also spotted there. The light-hearted nature of events in the company of his family was clearly useful for Rose, who has described his 2015 as “feast or famine.”
Not so Jordan Spieth, who will head to Scotlandon Sunday night as the winner of both of this year’s majors. “Golf goes through those cycles,” Rose said. “Last summer Rory McIlroy was the one to beat and now Jordan is the one to beat and in years past Tiger was the one to beat. You know players always go through that hot period. I know how difficult the game is, I think we all know how difficult the game is and so yes, Jordan’s going to be a force to be reckoned with at the Open Championship but just because he’s won the first two majors doesn’t put him way ahead of us all going into the third.
“Everything is very closely fought and contested. There’s no doubt he has a plan for sure to go on and win three in a row, but we all also have our plan to stop him.”
On Friday at Gullane, Rose was upset having clattered a 67-year-old spectator on the head with an errant tee shot on the 16th hole. He took note of the man’s details, with some form of complimentary gift inevitably set for the post.
“It was a pretty bad feeling as soon as I realised someone had gone down,” Rose said. “He took it like a trooper, he was talking to me and I was just trying to reassure him.”
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