St Andrews - Justin Rose will have a first-hand reminder of the task before
him when he tees off in the British Open Thursday with the aim of becoming the
first English golfer to win the tournament in 23 years.
For, playing alongside him in a mid-afternoon grouping, is none other than
Nick Faldo, who won the last of his three Open titles at Muirfield in 1992.
Faldo, who will turn 58 during the tournament, has indicated that this could
be his last Open appearance, spending more time as he does these days in the TV
commentary box than out on the golf course.
But he is still the player that all English, and all British, players look
up to and hope one day to emulate.
Asked why it has taken so long for another Englishman to win the Open whilst
players from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland have all succeeded in that
time, Rose, ranked eighth in the world, was at a loss to answer.
"I don't have any theories on that, and it should be the other way
around if you look at the world rankings ... because we've definitely had some
strong contenders and world number ones and stuff like that. I really don't
know. No theory. Hopefully it's about to turn," he said.
In comparison to countrymen like Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Luke Donald,
who have all come close, Rose, for a player of his stature, has a disappointing
record in The Open.
He made a momentous start by finishing tied for fourth as an 18-year-old
amateur at the 1998 Open, but since then he has struggled, failing to even
record another top 10 finish.
Again it is something he finds hard to explain especially as he has won a US
Open title and come close in the Masters and PGA Championship during that time.
There has always been a missing spark which maybe, he believes, he can find
this year from those watching and willing for an English and British win.
"I think the home fans would certainly love to see that," he said.
"I think I've been in this situation a number of times, so it's not new
"Probably have to do a better job of taking on that feeling of getting
the crowd behind me or using their energy in a better way potentially, or maybe
that just comes down to getting off to a good start, and then all of a sudden
people are behind you. So that could be the difference."
One difference from last year, which could work to his advantage, he says,
is that he will not tee off on Thursday having won the Scottish Open the week
before as he did last year.
Instead, Rose had a poor weekend at Gullane last week, but that does not
"In a weird way, I'm happy about it," he said.
"I've come into a lot of major championships very hot with my game, and
it hasn't really produced a chance to win in the subsequent major.
"Being a little less hyped potentially, I think that's a good