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Tour Feature (posted 14th September 1998)

Growing pains continue for Justin Rose

Coventry, England  - Justin Rose is finding out just how tough life can be on the European Tour following his glorious entrance into professional golf after the Open Championship just eight weeks ago at Royal Birkdale.

The 18-year-old Hampshire prodigy has had a chastening run since that famous pitch on the 18th in July, missing the cut in six successive European Tour events as a professional, including the One 2 One British Masters that finished yesterday, and not a penny earned on the Order of Merit.

To earn his Tour card for 1999, Rose has to finish in the top 115 in the European money list this year, which generally means that at least 55,000 is required to achieve this aim. Rose now has only one more event in which he can play until the season ends in October.

Even so his name will cost sponsors more than a million pounds. His handlers have shocked the world of golf last week by demanding a heavy price for the 18-year-old.

Revolutionary club makers Zevo revealed they refused to put up 1.5million after being contacted by his management team, Carnegie.

But Rose has discovered that professional golf takes no prisoners. This week he plays at Nick Faldo's tough Chart Hills course in one of two pre-qualifying rounds.

Only 90 players go through from the 1,200 entered and they join a final field of 180 in Spain in November where only the supreme survive. Just 35 are invited into the main tour next season.

However, Rose remains upbeat, insisting he and his father had mapped out a three-year plan for his progress on the pro tour. He says his decision to turn pro was made before the Open Championship.

"It's always been a three-year program,'' Ken Rose, Justin's father, coach and business manager, told the London Evening Standard.

"Go to qualifying school, maybe he doesn't make it on the tour, so then a year on the mini-tours, followed by a year on the European tour Challenge circuit. That was always the logic applied when he turned pro,'' he said. "It's a wonderful feeling to have time on your side.''

The notion is not lost on his son.

"Ernie Els is regarded as young and he's 10 years older than me,'' Justin Rose said. "Obviously I want to do it now, win quickly, which is a natural feeling. But, yes, if I'm realistic, five years down the line I'll only be 23.''