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Rose focus is on Federer and Lego as glory day is recalled

By Phil Casey

Justin Rose will take inspiration from the unlikely combination of Lego and Roger Federer as he seeks to take care of some “unfinished business” by winning the 146th Open Championship.

Rose burst onto the scene when he finished fourth at this year’s venue of Royal Birkdale as a 17-year-old amateur in 1998, famously holing his approach to the 72nd hole for a superb closing birdie.

That moment has now been immortalised in a 25-second film in which a Lego version of the Olympic champion recreates his 45-yard pitch, which was his last shot as an amateur and secured his best result in the Open to date.

“It surprises me after all these years that is still the best finish,” admitted Rose, who won the US Open in 2013 and lost a play-off to Sergio Garcia in the Masters in April.

“And, yeah, because of that (I have) unfinished business for sure. I don’t want to say that if I don’t win this it’s going to be a huge sort of hole in my career, but it’s the one tournament that I’ve dreamed about since I was a young boy.

“You’d take a major championship anywhere, but if they happen to line up a special venue, for me to do it at Royal Birkdale would be a full-circle moment.

“To win it would kind of close the book in a way on my Open Championship story. There’s no rush, but certainly I’m into the do-it-now phase of my career.”

At 36, Rose is a year older than Federer, who beat Marin Cilic to claim his eighth Wimbledon title on Sunday.

Rose and his wife Kate looked on from the Royal Box and the Ryder Cup star believes he can learn a lot from Federer as he looks to become the first English winner of the Open since Nick Faldo in 1992.

“Roger is the sporting athlete I look up to,” Rose added.

“Everything he does is pretty much spot on; the way he handles himself, the grace with which he plays the sport I think is incredible.

“Mentally how he doesn’t give much away I think is a style that’s well suited to golf, too, and that’s one of the reasons I really wanted to go to Wimbledon.

“Yes, I’m watching the tennis, but I’m watching him more than anything and seeing what I can pick up. There are a few tricks here and there that you can apply to golf. I’ve always found it a bit easier to learn from other sportsmen than from golfers.

“You’re trying to beat your competition here, whereas I can be completely impressed and awed by Federer because I never have to face him. It’s a much easier environment to learn when you don’t have to compete against that person.”

Rose has played just four events since losing out to Garcia at Augusta National, but recovered from missing the cut in the US Open to finish fourth in the Irish Open at Portstewart a fortnight ago.

And having been shown the Lego version of himself on social media, Rose hopes he can play with similar freedom 19 years later.

“My kids are five and eight and when you see them watch it and see them impressed, that’s how you know it was a cool achievement,” added Rose, whose Lego doppelganger strangely hits the shot using just his left hand.

“When I look back I marvel at how I was able to compete down the stretch and finished within two shots of winning an Open at 17. For me it was a glimpse into what my potential is.

“The expectation for a number of years afterwards took its toll, trying to live up to it. I feel now, though, at this stage of my career I’ve proved that wasn’t a flash in the pan, so I can come back to The Open a little freer than I could for a number of years.”

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