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New challenge for Rose

Justin Rose needs to take one step back to take two steps forward, according to the latest living example of just how the system works.

John Bickerton's second place in the Algarve Portuguese Open lifted him to eighth on the Order of Merit and 13th in the Ryder Cup points table.

The £44,000 collected by the 29-year-old from Redditch brought his earnings already this season to more than £100,000 and was the perfect demonstration of what the Challenge Tour has to offer.

He earned his card this season by finishing sixth overall on the Challenge Tour last year, a tough proving ground that has less prize money on offer but helps turn talented players into good professionals.

Bickerton believes that could be exactly what Rose needs to end a streak of 15 consecutive missed cuts since turning professional after his sensational fourth place in the Open last year.

"I feel sorry for Justin," said Bickerton after his play-off loss to Maidenhead's Van Phillips, ironically another Challenge Tour graduate who claimed his first tour victory on the Sir Henry Cotton-designed Penina course at the first play-off hole.

"He's having to deal with a lot of pressure at such a young age. The Challenge Tour would not be a bad thing to experience.

"You get used to travelling around Europe week after week, playing 72-hole tournaments and building up your confidence. Once you've done that then you can build from there.

"It's definitely a good avenue to go down."

Ironically, the winner of the Challenge Tour last season also knows exactly what Rose is going through - after his own similar experiences five years ago.

Warren Bennett finished top amateur like Rose in the 1994 Open at Turnberry and was tipped to be a future Open champion.

But after failing to earn his card for two years Bennett was finally forced to try his hand at the Challenge Tour and won five times last year to earn £81,053 and is now making a good living on the full European Tour.

"The Challenge Tour definitely worked for people like me and Warren," Bickerton added.

"It's financially tough to support yourself, but you have to commit yourself."

 

TRW