Justin Rose believes he has enough energy in the tank to challenge for a third win in succession in the Open Championship.
Rose admitted he was in uncharted territory after cruising to victory in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open yesterday to claim back-to-back wins for the first time in his career.
The 2013 US Open champion, who won the Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour a fortnight ago, will now try to follow in the footsteps of Phil Mickelson by claiming his second major title at Hoylake.
Mickelson, who won at Castle Stuart 12 months ago before lifting the Claret Jug at Muirfield a week later, carded a closing 65 but only moved up six places to joint 11th on a day of phenomenally low scoring at Royal Aberdeen.
Rose had not played the event for the last two years but said: “I thought I would try and do a Phil this year and put it on my schedule. So far so good.
“I’ve won two in a row now so I’ve put the pressure on myself. There’s no one to blame but me.
“It’s uncharted territory for me, I’ve never won two in a row before, never mind three.
“It’s unbelievable to be back in the winners’ circle so quickly but right now I am feeling great. I don’t feel the two wins have taken a lot out of me. I feel that I’ve taken it in my stride.
“The Open is going to come around quickly so (last night) is going to be calm and relaxed. I will enjoy the moment but my mind will definitely be back in the game as of Monday.”
Asked if he had ever been in better form ahead of the Open, Rose added: “In 2010 you could argue I came in with as much form having won two events, but at the same time I was just beginning to play well then. Now I have been playing well for four or five years so am a lot more comfortable with the expectations this time around.
“In the past I have been looking for something extra to get into contention but right now I am not chasing the next level, I am beginning to trust my game.”
With the course defenceless after morning rain and no wind, Rose took full advantage by storming to the turn in 31, moving three ahead of the field after sharing the overnight lead with Scot Marc Warren.
The 33-year-old, who moves from sixth in the world rankings to a joint career high of third, managed just one more birdie on the back nine but completed a flawless 65 to finish 16 under par, two ahead of Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg with Warren another three shots back in third.
Broberg had the consolation of claiming one of the three qualifying places for Hoylake, with England’s Tyrrell Hatton joint fourth and Scotland’s Scott Jamieson joint eighth taking the others.
Warren, who squandered a three-shot lead with four holes to play in this event in 2012, could only manage a closing 70 and said: “On the front nine my ball-striking was up there with what it’s been all week.
“Unfortunately the putter went cold on me and I just wasn’t quite seeing the lines, to be honest.
“Justin was the opposite. He seemed to be putting from outside me most of the time and holing them. Once he was out in front, he was tough to catch.”
Hatton had previously been denied a place at Hoylake despite finishing joint second in the Joburg Open in February, missing out to South African Justin Walters and South Korea’s Jin Jeong because of his lower world ranking.
“I’m over the moon with that,” the 22-year-old said. “It will be my third Open so I can’t wait.”
Jamieson was equally pleased, adding: “I’m delighted obviously.
“I did it three years ago; I think I got the last spot with a putt on the last and a similar story here. Obviously I like leaving it till the last minute.
“I just missed out on an automatic qualifying place from the Race to Dubai last year. I was 31st with the top 30 getting in. I think Paul Casey pipped me by a few thousand at the end of the year.”
Jamieson had charged through the field with a closing 64, while playing partner Stephen Gallacher went one better with a 63 that matched the course record set by Chile’s Felipe Aguilar a few hours earlier.
Rory McIlroy’s previous record of 64 was set on Thursday, just two hours after Broberg had established a new mark with a 65 after going out in the first group at 6.30am. McIlroy’s closing 67 left him on seven under par – as he had been on Thursday evening – one shot behind Mickelson, who shared 11th with Sheffield’s Danny Willett after weekend rounds of 68, 67.
American Brian Harman claimed a one-shot lead going into the final day of the John Deere Classic after he carded a third round of 65.
The 27-year-old recorded eagles on both the par-five second and 17th holes along with birdies on the fourth, eighth, 10th and 15th, but bogeys on the 12th and last meant he did not match his opening round of 63.
Countryman Steve Stricker went one better on the day with a round of seven under to card 64 and headed into the final day as Harman’s nearest challenger.
Stricker, who has qualified for the Open which starts at Hoylake this coming week, shot four birdies on the front nine and matched the feat on his way back to the clubhouse.