Watch: Justin Rose has one eye on the Lions as he prepares for Irish Open assault
For all the golfers at this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart, picking up the trophy and the lion’s share of a $7m prize fund on Sunday would be a great result.
But for Justin Rose, he has his eye on another result as well. The one in Auckland on Saturday morning.
Long a rugby fan, no doubt stemming from his South African roots, the 2013 US Open champion and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has been tweeting away about the Lions’ thrilling Test series with the All Blacks.
“I think a few things went in their favour,” Rose muses on the Lions’ second Test win. “Obviously they battled hard and they were behind (on the scoreboard) the whole game, and to come through at the end showed a lot of character and spirit.
“That's what the Lions are all about, and obviously it sets up a really exciting finish. So absolutely, I hope they can do it.”
Of course, discussing the Lions is not why Rose is sitting in front of the assembled media on Northern Ireland’s not so sunny north coast. The Englishman has a tournament to win. With The Open coming up in a couple of weeks, it's fair to say that several in the field have come to Portstewart’s Strand course with the thought of preparing for Royal Birkdale firmly in their thoughts.
2013 US Open champion and Ryder Cup star Justin Rose speaks at the Irish Open press conference in PortstewartPosted by Belfast Telegraph Sport on Tuesday, July 4, 2017
But for Rose, who is making his first tournament start since missing the cut at the US Open last month, he doesn't want to think beyond Friday afternoon.
“I think these events deserve their full attention in their own right,” the World No.13 states, deflecting any kind of belief he has one eye on competing for the year's third Major just yet.
“I'm trying to put together a body of work from Thursday onwards, trying to play great golf and not look at Sunday as a finish line, or not look at Birkdale as a finish line.”
This is Rose’s first trip to Ireland for a tournament since 2010, something he's very excited about, and the Ryder Cup star has been grouped with local man Graeme McDowell and last week’s winner Tommy Fleetwood in rounds one and two.
However, it's another local man who is to thank for Rose being in Portstewart at all: tournament host and defending champion Rory McIlroy, who convinced the 36-year old to come.
“It's nice to help a friend,” Rose smiles. “With his foundation benefitting it's an extra good reason to come and play, that was definitely part of the decision-making process.”
Will McIlroy repay the favour when Rose hosts the British Masters next year? “Unknown at this present time, but I'll be asking the question!” Rose laughs.
Belfast Telegraph Digital