Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Red-hot Justin Rose is on a mission for Open glory

Sealed with a kiss: Justin Rose celebrates clinching the Scottish Open in Aberdeen
Sealed with a kiss: Justin Rose celebrates clinching the Scottish Open in Aberdeen

Justin Rose believes he has enough energy in the tank to challenge for a third win in succession in the Open Championship.

Rose admitted he was in uncharted territory after cruising to victory in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open yesterday to claim back-to-back wins for the first time in his career.

And the 2013 US Open champion, who won the Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour a fortnight ago, will now try to follow in the footsteps of Phil Mickelson by claiming his second major title at Hoylake.

Mickelson, who won at Castle Stuart 12 months ago before lifting the Claret Jug at Muirfield a week later, carded a closing 65 but only moved up six places to joint 11th on a day of phenomenal low scoring at Royal Aberdeen.

Rose had not played the event for the last two years but said: "I thought I would try and do a Phil this year and put it on my schedule. So far so good.

"I've won two in a row now so I've put the pressure on myself. There's no-one to blame but me. It's uncharted territory for me, I've never won two in a row before, never mind three.

"It's unbelievable to be back in the winners' circle so quickly but right now I am feeling great. I don't feel the two wins have taken a lot out of me. I feel that I've taken it in my stride.

"The Open is going to come around quickly so tonight is going to be calm and relaxed. I will enjoy the moment but my mind will definitely be back in the game as of tomorrow."

Asked if he had ever been in better form ahead of the Open, Rose added: "In 2010 you could argue I came in with as much form having won two events, but at the same time I was just beginning to play well then.

"Now I have been playing well for four or five years so am a lot more comfortable with the expectations this time around.

"In the past I have been looking for something extra to get into contention but right now I am not chasing the next level, I am beginning to trust my game."

With the course defenceless after morning rain and no wind, Rose took full advantage by storming to the turn in 31, moving three ahead of the field after sharing the overnight lead with Scot Marc Warren.

The 33-year-old, who moves from sixth in the world rankings to a joint career high of third, managed just one more birdie on the back nine but completed a flawless 65 to finish 16 under par, two ahead of Sweden's Kristoffer Broberg with Warren another three shots back in third.

Broberg had the consolation of claiming one of the three qualifying places for Hoylake, with England's Tyrrell Hatton joint fourth and Scotland's Scott Jamieson joint eighth to take the others.

Warren, who squandered a three-shot lead with four holes to play in this event in 2012, could only manage a closing 70 and said: "On the front nine today my ball-striking was up there with what it's been all week.

"Unfortunately the putter went cold on me and I just wasn't quite seeing the lines.

"Justin was the opposite. He seemed to be putting from outside me most of the time and holing them. Once he was in front, he was tough to catch."

Hatton had previously been denied a place at Hoylake despite finishing joint second in the Joburg Open in February, missing out to South African Justin Walters and South Korea's Jin Jeong because of his lower world ranking.

"I'm over the moon with that," the 22-year-old said. "It will be my third Open so I can't wait."

Jamieson was equally pleased, adding: "I'm delighted obviously. I did it three years ago, I think I got the last spot with a putt on the last and a similar story here. Obviously I like leaving it until the last minute."

Stephen Gallacher hit a 63 that matched the course record set by Chile's Felipe Aguilar a few hours earlier

Rory McIlroy's previous record of 64 was set on Thursday, just two hours after Broberg had established a new mark with a 65 after going out in the first group at 6:30am.

Ulsterman McIlroy's closing 67 left him on seven under par – as he had been on Thursday evening – one shot behind Mickelson.

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