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Rose looking to return to top form again

There was no way Justin Rose would miss the Deutsche Bank Classic at the TPC of Boston. Few things inspire a pro golfer more than the memory of a large check.

``It started there,'' Rose said. ``I'm looking forward to going back.''

As a magic moment to be savored for a lifetime, nothing Rose has or will ever do can top his eagle-2 on the 72nd hole of the 1999 British Open that gave the then-18-year-old English amateur a fourth-place finish. But the 2003 Deustche Bank was one of Rose's breakthrough experiences in the wearing trade of making a living in professional golf.cw2

Rose shot a 15-under-par 269 to finish third, his best PGA Tour performance. The $340,000 he earned gave him enough prize money to keep his tour card for this season.

Like a growing number of European players, Rose has become bi-continental, playing on both the U.S. and European tours. Besides the travel grind that imposes, splitting time between the two also reduces the player's chances to advance up the ladder of either tour's rankings.

``But the way the world rankings work,'' Rose said last week, ``you're rewarded more for high finishes in stronger fields, and here (in the U.S.) is where you find most of those.''

While Rose finished 20th in the points standings in Europe, he has three top-10 finishes in his 16 U.S. events so far. He was impressive in jumping to the midpoint lead at the Masters before fading to 22nd. He's currently 65th on the money list with $892,813.

Rose's world ranking (the indecipherable points system run in tiny type each week) is 69th. That's just below the cutoff line for the field in the ultra-lucrative World Golf Championship events. Rose has a powerful incentive to be here in America solidifying his ranking.

``I improve a little more when I'm here,'' said Rose, who finished at the back of the pack at last week's Buick Classic in Cromwell, Conn., earning just $8,232. ``I can just try to make something of my season and keep up my ranking.

``I'm comfortable here,'' Rose said of the U.S. Tour. ``I like the way everything is a little more vibrant.''

The 24-year-old learned diligence the hard way. After his boffo entrance to world-class golf at the '99 British Open, Rose turned pro with disastrous results. He missed his first 21 cuts. That's almost an entire year with a gross income of zero.

Rose thinks his semester in the school of hard knocks was invaluable.

``You've always got to treat the game with respect,'' he said. ``No matter how good you get, keep your head down, stay humble and keep working.''

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