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Captains rivalry should for an interesting Ryder Cup

The rivalry between U.S. captain Paul Azinger and European counterpart Nick Faldo will add extra spice to the 2008 Ryder Cup, according to Justin Rose.

"The two captains are perfect for one another," European number one Rose told Reuters. "They had a great playing career against each other and they've got a good history.

"Now they are commentating with one another on American television and they've got a friendly rivalry. That's what the Ryder Cup is all about, friendly rivalry."

The Florida-based Briton, who has leaped 45 places to number six in the world after winning the 2006-07 European order of merit and finishing in the top 12 in each of this year's four majors, said the Americans were hurting after losing the last three Ryder Cups.

"It is intense and it is fierce and I think it's got the makings of a great Ryder Cup because the Europeans have had the upper hand for quite some time now," said Rose.

"I am sure the Americans don't like that and will go to Valhalla hungry."

Rose said that having six-times major winner Faldo leading the team would be a plus for Europe.

"He is the most successful individual in Ryder Cup history," said the 27-year-old Englishman. "His points total (25) is amazing and he's played in 11 Ryder Cups.

"He's a motivated individual. He hates to lose and he'll do everything in his power to make sure he's a good captain."

Rose, who is set to make his debut in the biennial team event in September, said he wanted to underline his credentials as one of the world's top golfers by doing well in the Ryder Cup and in the four majors of 2008.

"The Ryder Cup is right up there with all my goals next year," he said. "I have wanted to play in it in the past but I've not been quite ready for it.

"There is a lot of pressure involved and it is a huge sporting occasion. I've got off to a great Ryder Cup start, I'm leading the points table, so it gives me a nice cushion not to have to worry about it until I start my season in mid February."

Rose, who began his professional career by missing 21 consecutive cuts, said he never expected to achieve quite so much in 2007.

"It has been a great year," he said. "It was probably way beyond my expectations at the start of the year to move up to sixth in the world.

"I did well in the majors and prepared hard for each individual one. That's something I've always been able to do throughout my career, single out an event or two and peak for it."

But Rose acknowledged he had now raised his standards to such an extent that the pressure would be firmly on him next year.

"I think that part of getting over that (extra pressure) is recognising that's the case and therefore changing your outlook," he said. "My coach (Nick Bradley) says you've got to believe you can go on to bigger and better things.

"Part of it is realising that could be a trap to fall into next year but making sure it doesn't happen."

Rose said he was happy with his overall technique and only needed to make minor adjustments to take the next step up.

"There's nothing that springs to mind where I feel I have a glaring weakness," he said. "I think my wedge play, i.e. from 50 to 120 yards, could be sharper.

"That's a key area because at par-fives you can lay up and still make birdie or if you're in trouble off the tee at par-fours, you can save par by being in that sort of zone.

"But it's all about fine tuning for me now. I think it's all there and it's just that extra one or two percent I'm looking for now."


December 23, 2007

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