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Justin Rose wary of return to Royal Birkdale

A decade after stunning the golf world with a grandstand finish at the British Open, Justin Rose is wary of the nostalgia and hype he is likely to face when he returns to Royal Birkdale in July.

Briton Rose burst on to the global scene as a 17-year-old amateur by chipping in on the final hole to tie for fourth in the 1998 Open championship at Birkdale.

Now firmly established as one of the game's best professionals, the 27-year-old Englishman will revisit Birkdale for the third major of the season from July 17-20 when the British media is certain to turn the clock back 10 years.

"I don't want Birkdale to be a walk down memory lane," Rose told reporters on Wednesday during his preparation for this week's Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club.

"That's what I've got to be careful of. I want to go there, be really focused and do a good job that week. I've got to be very mindful of all of the distractions that might come up."

The world number seven, who is playing his first tournament of the year after the longest break of his career, plans to arrive at Birkdale the week before the Open.

"It's important to go back there and feed off the good, positive memories, images and stuff that you'll have," he said.

"It's nice to get up there the week before and you get the "wow" factor out of your system. Then you can get down to business when the tournament starts. But it's important for me to at least recognise what might happen that week."

Rose, who suffered back injuries last April and again toward the end of the year, has not played tournament golf for nine weeks.

"I just wanted to get myself fit and strong and take a long-term approach," the 2007 European number one said. "I took four weeks off where I didn't touch a club and then I had five weeks of really hard work.

"I think it's all behind me now," he added, referring to his back problem. "You've got to realise there's a weakness there but that it can be managed. I've got to stay very disciplined with my workouts, my stretching and my schedule."

Rose, who clinched the European Tour order of merit for the first time last year by winning the season-ending Volvo Masters, has set his sights on a maiden PGA Tour title and a Ryder Cup debut at Valhalla in September.

He is also eager to build on his polished performances in last year's majors, where his worst finish was a tie for 12th at the Open and also at the PGA Championship.

"Last year was a good year for me in the majors and I'm looking forward to trying to keep that going and getting better and better," he said.

"I did a lot of things right and I kept a lot of things consistent through the year. I certainly don't want to change that, maybe just refine it a little bit this year."

 

February 14, 2008




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