Southport - After Justin Rose finished fourth in the British
Open at Royal Birkdale as a 17-year-old amateur in 1998, it seemed inevitable
that he would soon go on to win the Claret Jug.
But he returns to the Southport links for this week's
championship having never subsequently managed to match that performance as a
It is little wonder that Rose, now 36, spoke of
"unfinished business" on Tuesday as he prepared for Thursday's first
round, when he will go out in a group with former Open champion Louis
Oosthuizen of South Africa and Justin Thomas.
"It surprises me after all these years that is still
the best finish," he said of his performance in miserable weather in 1998,
when Mark O'Meara eventually won the title in a play-off against Brian Watts.
Rose equalled the record low score for an amateur at The
Open with a second-round 66, and there was a huge roar when he holed a pitch
from the rough at the 18th on the Sunday for a birdie to secure a tie for
"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 it was the one tournament
that even before I finished fourth here as an amateur, I got to final
qualifying at the age of 14 and created a bit of a story then.
"It's definitely been a championship that I've had
great moments in. And to win it would kind of close the book in a way on my
Open Championship story."
Rose - who warmed up for Birkdale by attending Roger
Federer's victory over Marin Cilic in the Wimbledon final on Sunday - has had
mixed results since winning Olympic gold in Rio last year.
He was runner-up to Sergio Garcia at the Masters in April
but missed the cut at the recent US Open.
Having only ever won one major, at the US Open in 2013, Rose
admits he still uses his 1998 display as a model.
"The freedom I had that particular week, the confidence
I had in my short game, the innocence in which I played the game, I think, is
kind of still a model.
"But, yeah, when I do look back I do marvel at how I
was able to compete so closely down the stretch, and finished within two shots
of winning an Open Championship at the age of 17.
"I guess for me it was a glimpse into what my potential
is. And hard work will create another chance here and there."