Ten years on, Justin Rose wants something better than the feeling he experienced in 1998 - and he thinks he can do it.
Justin Rose is an all together different golfing animal to the 17-year-old amateur who took the 1998 Open by storm.
Ten years on, Rose has become a mature and wiser golfer after a decade of trying to live up to the promise he showed as a teenager at Royal Birkdale. Now, Rose has returned to the same venue intent on recapturing the magic he showed when he won the Silver Medal and finished tied for fourth after chipping in on the 18th green to cap a memorable week.
Rose turned professional immediately after his performances at The Open captured the imagination of the nation but he was soon experiencing the harsh reality of life on the main European Tour.
He missed the cut in his first 24 tournaments as a professional and some started to doubt whether he had the ability after all to win a Tour title. But Rose never doubted himself and he eventually won the first of seven titles at the 2002 Dunhill Championship in South Africa, although he admits he went through some tough and challenging times.
“It is tough to look back and want to change anything because I feel like I’ve come through a stronger person, a better player hopefully,” Rose said ahead of his seventh Open.
“I was turning professional after The Open in 1998, no matter what happened . My reason for doing that was not that I felt like I had done everything in the amateur game but I had done a lot of what I wanted to achieve and I was just keen to turn pro and get going.
“I thought I would turn professional quietly and get some experience under my belt before Qualifying School at the end of the year. My family and I all thought it would take three years to really establish myself on the European Tour. That turned out to be a remarkably accurate three-year plan, but I think my expectations changed, everybody else’s expectations changed, and therefore I think it became a bit of a burden.
“At the same time, a lot of doors were opened for me where I gained a lot of valuable experience, and some tough lessons were learned as well.”
Now Rose is back at the scene of the greatest moment of his career, and he admits the only way to beat the feeling he had ten years ago is to win The Open this time.
“I don’t think I have ever had that same buzz since 1998,” Rose said. “Not that same buzz, the way it finished. There’s no bigger buzz I have ever experienced than that moment on the 18th green when that pitch shot went in.
“I think I have had as satisfying moments on the golf course but never quite that sort of buzz. I have always thought about what I achieved in 1998 as being the next best thing to winning The Open Championship.
“I think for me to experience something bigger than what happened in 1998, I certainly need to go on and win this tournament. That’s the way I’ve always had it in my mind. Obviously, there is the opportunity this year to hopefully play in the Ryder Cup, and I am sure that will be a huge opportunity to experience that buzz. I think I need to win it to go one better than ‘98.”
The talents of all the competitors, not just Rose, will be tested to the extreme by the weather conditions on the North West coast. The wind picked up yesterday to a considerable degree and with some rain forecast for today, Rose is expecting testing conditions.
“If the conditions blow like this on the opening day, it will just be about survival,” Rose said. “It will be brutally tough and we just have to go out there and deal with it.
“I’ve always felt like I tend to play well on the tougher courses and this certainly is one. I think it is going to suit the guy that goes out there and rises to the challenge because it pretty much tests your all-round game.
“You certainly need to drive the ball well and I feel I am swinging the club well, hitting the ball well, and I am very comfortable on the golf course. I’ve got to say it gives me a decent chance.”