GULLANE, United Kingdom: Justin Rose said on Wednesday that he needs to stop thinking about his breakthrough win at the US Open last month if he is to add British Open glory this week at Muirfield.
The 32-year-old became the first English winner of the US Open in 43 years at Merion Golf Club outside of Philadelphia in June, bagging his first major title after 15 years as a pro.
He was also the first Englishman to win a major since Nick Faldo at the 1996 Masters.
A win at the famed East Lothian links on Sunday would make him the first Englishman to lift the British Open since Faldo did so at Muirfield in 1992.
He would also be the first player to win back-to-back US and British Opens since Tiger Woods at his prime in 2000 en route to holding all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.
But first of all, thoughts of Merion must be banished said Rose, who played the week after his US Open win, but then took three weeks off to recover both physically and mentally.
“Obviously this week the challenge for me is I haven’t seen most of the golfing world since I won at the US Open. So obviously a lot of well wishes, which is great,” he said.
“But the challenge for me is going to be staying in this tournament, not being dragged back to Merion every five minutes. So that’s the only challenge that’s happening this week.”
Asked whether taking three weeks off in the lead-in to a major tournament would leave him under-golfed, Rose said that he had no regrets and that the decision could pay dividends on Sunday.
“I’m going to need that time if I’m going to get into contention and have a chance to win on Sunday. That’s when the freshness and the break will serve me well,” he said.
“Obviously getting there is going to be the hard part. There’s a lot of good golf I need to play in order to be in contention on Sunday, but should that be the case, then absolutely. That’s when the break is going to be necessary, I think.”
Rose’s record to date at The Open does not augur well for him.
He first burst onto the scene in finishing fourth as a teenage amateur at Royal Birkdale in 1998 after which he turned pro.
But he has failed to record a top 10 finish since then and missed the cut last year at Royal Lytham.
Having played links golf often as an amateur in England, Rose is puzzled as to why that is, but believes that he can compete again.
“If you look at my results, they’re really not very good in this tournament. But I would say that the reality is a little bit better than that,” he said.
“I felt that 2009 at Turnberry I had a good chance to win there. Just nothing really went my way on Sunday, and putted poorly for the most part on that day. But I was so close to being right in the hunt there at Turnberry.
“The tournament in 2002 (Muirfield) I was tied third going into the last round. Obviously just a little bit young and needed a lot more experience under my belt, but given that sort of similar situation this year, that’s a situation I’d once again relish.”
Rose also believes that his US Open win could act as a spur to good friends and English contempories Luke Donald and Ian Poulter.
“When you see one of your friends and rivals even, go ahead and do it, and you believe in yourself to be capable of achieving what they’re achieving, it gives you that incentive and that belief possibly that you can go ahead and do it yourself,” he said.
“I’m sure the boys are looking at it and thinking, okay, my turn could be around the corner and just got to persevere.”