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Justin Rose hoping for local advantage

Justin Rose is hoping some home comforts will help him to victory in the South African Airways Open this week.

Rose, who was born in Johannesburg, has spent the last two weeks at his grandmother's home on the Fancourt Estate preparing for the $1,202,000 event.

"I come out to play the Fancourt courses every Christmas, and also to spend time with the family," explained Rose, who won his first European Tour title in Johannesburg in 2002. "I've got some good practice in this year already. I think this will be an advantage because I'm super-relaxed."

Rose, 25, finished 55th on the U.S. Tour money list this past season and twice came close to claiming his first title on American soil.

"The second half of the year was good," Rose said. "I nearly came close to winning twice and in both instances I was beaten by guys who happened to have incredible final rounds - this gave me encouragement."

The first of those was the Buick Championship, where Rose missed out on a playoff by one shot after Brad Faxon carded a closing 61 and South African Tjaart Van der Walt a 64.

The second instance was the Funai Classic in Disneyland, where American Lucas Glover edged out Rose with birdies on the last two holes.

Last year's winner, South African Tim Clark, will defend his title but faces stiff competition from Retief Goosen and Ernie Els.

Els won the Dunhill Championship on Sunday in just his second event back following knee surgery.

The two-time US Open champion carded a final-round 68 at Leopard Creek to benefit from leader Ulrich Van den Berg's collapse on the back nine.

Goosen, the world No. 4, is expecting a tough test at a venue where only the winner of the last two Sunshine Tour events played there has finished under par.

"It's a tough layout," Goosen said. "You have to be driving well to play well on it, and that's one area of my game where I've been struggling lately.

"I read about the Sunshine Tour event they had at the Links a few months ago, where 80 was a good score. It will be a good challenge."

December 15, 2005

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