The Open: Justin Rose has '˜unfinished business' with Birkdale as he seeks to take his Open story full circle
Rose burst onto the scene when he finished fourth at this year’s venue of Royal Birkdale as a 17-year-old amateur in 1998, famously holing his approach to the 72nd hole for a closing birdie.
That moment has now been immortalised in a 25-second film in which a Lego version of the Olympic champion recreates his 45-yard pitch, which was his last shot as an amateur and secured his best result in the Open to date.
“It surprises me after all these years that it’s still the best finish,” admitted Rose, who won the US Open in 2013 and lost a play-off to Sergio Garcia in the Masters in April.
“And, yeah, because of that (I have) unfinished business for sure. I don’t want to say that if I don’t win this it’s going to be a huge hole in my career, but it’s the one tournament that I’ve dreamed about since I was a boy.
“You’d take a major championship anywhere, but if they happen to line up a special venue, for me to do it at Royal Birkdale would be obviously a full-circle moment.
“To win it would kind of close the book in a way on my Open Championship story. There’s no rush, but certainly I’m into the do-it-now phase of my career.”
At 36, Rose is a year older than Federer, who beat Marin Cilic to claim his eighth Wimbledon title at the All England Club on Sunday. Rose and his wife Kate looked on from the Royal Box and the Ryder Cup star believes he can learn a lot from Federer as he looks to become the first English winner of the Open since Nick Faldo in 1992.
“Roger is the sporting athlete I look up to,” added Rose. “Everything he does is pretty much spot on; the way he handles himself, the grace in which he plays the sport I think is incredible.
“Mentally how he doesn’t give much away I think is a style that’s well suited to golf, too, and that’s one of the reasons I really wanted to go to Wimbledon.
“Yes, I’m watching the tennis, but I’m watching him more than anything and seeing what I can pick up. There are a few tricks here and there that you can apply to golf. I’ve always found it a bit easier to learn from other sportsmen than I have from golfers.
“You’re trying to beat your competition here, whereas I can be completely impressed and awed by Federer because I never have to face him. It’s a much easier environment to learn when you don’t have to compete against that person.
“The whole occasion and the Royal Box was amazing. I worked hard last week. It was the perfect Sunday to take off to sort of enjoy a day before heading up here.”
Rose has played just four events since losing out to Garcia at Augusta National, but recovered from missing the cut in the US Open to finish fourth in the Irish Open a fortnight ago.
Having been shown the Lego version of himself on social media, he hopes he can play with similar freedom 19 years later.
“When I 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,” he said.
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