CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (AP) — It’s been 20 years since Justin Rose, his slight frame shrouded by a baggy red sweater, holed out for eagle to secure a tie for fourth place at the British Open.
He was just a kid then —a 17-year-old amateur seemingly with the golfing world at his feet — but it remains his best finish at his home major.
Rose doesn’t understand why.
“I’m kind of comfortable with how bad my record’s been here,” Rose said Tuesday, two days before the British Open starts at Carnoustie, “… and I don’t feel like there’s a reason for it, either.”
Since that iconic moment at Royal Birkdale in 1998, he’s won a major title, an Olympic gold medal and two World Golf Championships, all while becoming a Ryder Cup stalwart for the European team.
He has also risen to No. 3 in the world rankings and could even get to No. 1 with a win this week.
It means his poor British Open record really does jump out from an otherwise impressive resume.
The thing is, Rose is comfortable playing links golf. He won the Scottish Open in 2014 on a links course at Royal Aberdeen and feels he has done well at the Dunhill Links Championship, an annual European Tour event played over the links at St. Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie.
He also said he is playing the most consistent golf of his career “by far.” So maybe this could be his year.
“I couldn’t think of a better time to turn it around and to sort of bring everything full circle, if you like, and lift the claret jug,” Rose said. “Take it any year, but 20 years has a nice ring to it.”
This is the latest opportunity for Rose to become the top-ranked golfer, a feat not achieved by an Englishman since Luke Donald in August 2012.
He could have done so by winning the Memorial in Ohio in early June, but he finished tied for sixth. He has since had top-10 finishes at the U.S. Open and the Scottish Open, and Rose doesn’t want to take the back-door route to the No. 1 ranking.
“I’ve really said that I want to get to world No. 1 by winning golf tournaments,” Rose said. “There could be opportunities in the next six months — I could get there by finishing seventh somewhere because there’s always permutations — but I want to get to world No. 1 by winning.”
If Rose wants a pre-Open boost, the last two winners played their opening two rounds with the previous year’s champion.
Rose will set out Thursday in a group containing defending champion Jordan Spieth.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80