Tiger Woods may have finished a distant 12 shots back of Justin Rose in the U.S. Open last month, but the winner of his first major championship believes that just having the world No. 1 in the field makes winning a grand slam event that much sweeter.
“It does validate victory,” Rose, who bested Phil Mickelson and Jason Day by two shots at Merion Golf Club in the men’s second major of the season, told Sky Sports Thursday after playing a practice round at Muirfield, site of next week’s British Open. Though Woods has not played competitively since elbow pain sent him to the sidelines after the final round of the U.S. Open, Rose would love to go head-to-head with the 14-time major champ down the stretch at Muirfield with the title on the line.
"If he's going to end up being the greatest player in the history of the game,” the 32-year-old Englishman mused, “to have beaten him down the stretch in tournaments is a tale for the grandchildren as well."
Rose, who was the low-scoring amateur in the Open Championship in 1998, hopes to become the first Englishman to win the event since Nick Faldo accomplished the feat in 1992 at Muirfield. The third-ranked golfer in the world believes his experience in the last major will serve him well.
"It'll be exciting to play as a major champion for the first time in another major so if I'm coming down the last two or three holes with a chance to win that's when I can draw upon what happened at Merion," Rose said.
With the rough reportedly playing Merion-tough at Muirfield, Rose averred he could draw on his play from three weeks ago to help him stay the course.
“I've been hitting the ball really well of late,” he said. “From Merion's perspective that was what was required -- keeping the ball in front of you, keeping out of trouble and hopefully the Open Championship will play similarly."
Rose was not the only superstar getting in some licks on the Scottish links course that will host the best in the world starting next Thursday. Eagle eyes also spotted Rory McIlroy playing the track on Monday and Tuesday.
McIlroy was the object of study for countryman Shane Lowry’s caddie Dermot Byrne, who, according to Bernie McGuire, was on a scouting trip when he accompanied the two-time major champion for nine holes on Monday.