Justin Rose has rekindled his love of the Open Championship after finally surpassing his teenage heroics of two decades ago.
Rose finished in a tie for fourth as a 17-year-old amateur at Royal Birkdale in 1998 and had recorded just one other top 10 in 15 subsequent appearances, despite having won the US Open in 2013 and Olympic gold in 2016.
But the 37-year-old put that disappointing statistic behind him with a tie for second at Carnoustie thanks to a record-equalling 64 in the third round and a closing 69 which left him two shots behind former Ryder Cup team-mate Francesco Molinari.
“It just proves to me that I can play well in this tournament. That I can win the Open,” said Rose, who only made the halfway cut by making a birdie on the 18th in the second round.
“When I’m in the hunt, I enjoy it. I play my best golf. I don’t back away. I really enjoy it. It was great to get the crowd behind me. I hadn’t felt the energy of the crowd for a while in the Open. That was a real positive for me and it renews the love of the Open for me.”
.@JustinRose99 makes four birdies in four days on 18. He will be clubhouse leader at-6.
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 22, 2018
Rose looked to be out of contention after playing his first 13 holes in one over par, but hit the pin with his approach to the par-five 14th to set up a tap-in eagle and birdied the 18th for the fourth day running to overhaul Eddie Pepperell as the clubhouse leader.
“I set myself the lofty goal to shoot five under on the back nine to get to eight under,” Rose added. “The leaders started to wobble a little bit toward the end of the front nine, and that’s when I knew there was an opportunity.
“I started to play great golf. Making the eagle at 14 was the little kind of boost I needed. When I got it to five under, even though I was one behind I said to my caddie, ‘I feel like I’m two back the way the golf course is playing’. So I kept urging myself to try and make birdies.”
Rose even contemplated holing his second shot on the 18th, rekindling memories of the way he pitched in for a birdie on the 72nd hole at Birkdale in 1998.
“Yeah, it brought back memories for sure. The fact I had a wedge shot for my approach. I was thinking, can I do it again? I very nearly did.”
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