Starting with Brooks Koepka’s 2017 US Open victory the last five of golf’s premier events have been won by 20-somethings from the United States
In contrast, an Englishman has not lifted the Claret Jug since Nick Faldo in 1992, although there have been European triumphs courtesy of Ireland twice (Padraig Harrington both times), Northern Ireland twice (Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy) and Sweden (Henrik Stenson) in the last 11 years.
“I don’t know what I’d put it down to other than the American boys in the world rankings and on the golf course are performing really well,” said Rose ahead of the 147th Championship at Carnoustie.
“The top end of American golf right now is incredibly strong. I think Tommy (Fleetwood, who finished second at last month’s US Open) showed how close the Europeans are to challenging that dominance.
“So it’s not like we’re a mile behind. It’s just they’re on a great run right now, and there’s no reason why a European player shouldn’t come through this week.
“Obviously, Tommy’s got a brilliant chance. Paul Casey’s got a great chance. He’s been knocking on the door many times now too. Paul is dangerous on links golf courses.
“Darren Clarke won one out of the blue years ago. Maybe it’s sort of a Westy (Lee Westwood) time as well.
Rory clearly is probably even more dangerous at the minute because he’s been a little quiet.
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 17, 2018
“I find that Rory is always quiet for a while and then he’ll kind of kick back into gear.”
Rose made his major breakthrough at the 2013 US Open but performances at his home major has been much less impressive.
The 37-year-old has had just one top-10 finish – at St Andrews three years ago – in 15 attempts since finishing fourth as an amateur at Royal Birkdale in 1998.
But that does not deter him and when asked whether he could win this week the 2013 US Open champion gave a confident “Yes”.
“I don’t mind expectation. I feel like you’ve got to be a big boy, and you’ve got to be able to handle that,” added the Englishman, who will celebrate 20 years as a professional on Friday.
“If you want to play at the top level, that’s what you’ve got to live with. I’ve got no problem with that.
“Yeah, I want to win the Open, no doubt about it. Obviously, I’m kind of comfortable with how bad my record’s been here.
“It’s nothing new to me and I don’t feel like there’s a reason for it either. I feel like I’ve created some better opportunities in the Open than my record suggests.
“I think definitely the consistency that I’m playing at now is by far the best I’ve ever had in my career.
“I couldn’t think of a better time to turn it around and to sort of bring everything full circle, if you like.
“I’d take it any year but 20 years has a nice ring to it, if I want to be superstitious.”
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Jordan Spieth will be bidding to defend his Open title on Thursday as the third major championship of the year gets underway at Carnoustie in Scotland.
Here, we take a look at five of the best moments from the Open.
Nick Faldo wins second Open title – 1990
The Englishman clinched his second Claret Jug with a scintillating 18-under par. Producing rounds of 67, 65, 67 and 71 meant Faldo finished five shots clear of second place Greg Norman. His win at St. Andrew’s made him the second person since Tom Watson in 1982 to win two majors in the same year.
Jean van de Velde’s improbable collapse – 1999
Van de Velde was on the brink of becoming the first Frenchman to win the Open Championship in 92 years. With a three shot lead, all he had to do was double-bogey the 18th. But he blew it and ended up in a three-way play-off. He would go on to lose to Paul Lawrie.
Tiger Woods completes career grand slam – 2000
When Woods lifted The Open title in 2000 he became the youngest player to seal a career grand slam at the age of 24. He avoided all the treacherous bunkers at St. Andrew’s, to shoot 19-under par, winning by a mammoth eight shots. The American returns to Carnoustie this week seeking a first major since 2008.
Padraig Harrington’s superb comeback – 2007
Harrington started the final round six shots behind leader Sergio Garcia, who faltered as the Irishman posted a sizzling 67. In the end, Harrington won by a stroke in the play-off to claim his first major. One year later at Royal Birkdale, the 46-year-old successfully defended his Open crown.
Stenson shoots record 20-under par – 2013
One of the greatest performances in history. The Swede shot a 20-under par 264, the lowest 72-hole score ever in a major, to become the first Scandinavian to win a men’s golf major. His final shot was a stunning 20-foot birdie putt that tumbled into the cup on its last turn.
Defending Open champion Jordan Spieth believes his generation is the best and most fearless in the history of the game – and he is currently at the head of it.
Last year under-25-year-olds won 40 per cent of events on the PGA Tour and while that number has dropped this season, young Americans have dominated the last five majors.
Spieth, 25 in 11 days, leads the way with three career majors but not far behind is 28-year-old Brooks Koepka who successfully defended his maiden US Open title last month.
Making up the contingent of 20-something Americans are Justin Thomas, 25, and Patrick Reed, 27, who made their breakthroughs at the US PGA and Masters respectively.
“We had an extremely strong class of players out of the United States in my graduating high school class and classes around us,” said Spieth after handing back the Claret Jug on his arrival at Carnoustie for the 147th Open.
“Our class has a ridiculous number of worldwide wins, the 24-year-olds or whatever, the 2011 high school class.
“It’s kind of absurd and would compare probably better than any other class in maybe the history of the game.
“The deeper fields we’ve experienced in junior and amateur golf led to quick transitions onto the PGA Tour.
“So maybe when it took five years to transition guys into winning 10, 15 years ago it’s taking guys five months now and whether it’s five times faster or 10 times faster you’re more well prepared for majors.
“It’s a natural transition into, kind of, fearless golf at the highest level. I think that’s what you are kind of seeing out of the 20-something-year-olds.”
Spieth’s last win was actually his Open triumph at at Royal Birkdale 12 months and he has been overtaken by Thomas, who has four since then to propel him to world number two.
The three-time major winner admits he has struggled with his game but feels a much-needed recent break has helped him refocus, especially after taking the same holiday he did a couple of weeks before Birkdale.
“I went to Seattle. My little sister was cheerleading at the US Special Olympics,” he added.
“I hadn’t been up to Seattle since the US Open at Chambers Bay (which he won in 2015) so I went out to Chambers Bay with Michael (Greller, his caddie) and we walked down the 18th hole and it was cool reliving those memories.
“And then I went to Cabo (in Mexico) with some friends like I did last year. I kind of went through the same schedule.
“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple of weeks of not really working and it was nice to kind of start from scratch.
“I feel like I’m in a position now with every part of my game, I attacked the places that really needed some strong work.
“That combination with an Open Championship, the way it needs to be played, I think, is a really good spot for me to kickback into shape.”