Bunker Mentality

Rose is bloomin’ brilliant

Bunker Mentality

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Never has a trip to Wales been so coveted, but Justin Rose gave himself a timely boost in his attempt to make the European Ryder Cup team for Celtic Manor with his win at the Memorial Tournament.

The only big cardboard cheques Rose has seen since joining the US PGA Tour have been those left in clubhouse bars by his esteemed rivals but, on his 162nd appearance in the USA, he finally prevailed.

Rose may have been jostling for top spot with a man dressed as an unduly flashy mechanic with Rickie Fowler sporting what looked to be a lurid orange jumpsuit, but the Englishman shielded his eyes and carded a resplendent 66.

The gloriously named American Bo Van Pelt was also in contention but, as everyone knows full well, Rose never loses on his 162nd appearance on any tour, and the US PGA proved to be no exception.

The 29-year-old constantly reminds everyone that he is not sufficiently recognised within British golf, and his win enabled him to once again dispel the myth that his performance at The Open at Royal Birkdale in 1998 was not his defining moment.

"I think I'm very much a forgotten man right now in English golf," he said. "I think the Open Championship, finishing fourth there, skewed things for me in terms of my expectations, and certainly everyone else's expectations."

Rose's win should lift him from 53rd spot to eighth on the European Ryder Cup points list, and just ahead of his portly 2007 team-mate Graeme McDowell, who captured the prestigious Wales Open at Celtic Manor.

McDowell, who recorded an inspired final-round 63 to take the win, won 2.5 points out of four on his Ryder Cup debut two years ago and formed a sensational partnership with Rory McIlroy at last year's Vivendi Trophy.

The Ulsterman has now won at the course to be used this September - how could Monty consider not picking the 30-year-old if he were to require a captain's pick?

A mention must also go to local boy Rhys Davies, who plundered two eagles among four twos in a course-record 62 to send the Welsh supporters into delirium, and every Daffodil-kiss and fish pump will have given Monty something to think about.

It was a fantastic week for the Europeans and, as the Scot addresses his mid-afternoon fry-up, he can mull over the burgeoning fortunes of a softly spoken Englishman, a hearty Irishman and a gutsy Welshman.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Rose has a 36-hole US Open sectional qualifier this week, but it will not stop him enjoying a few Bacardi Breezers in celebration after breaking his 12-year duck over the pond. "I do like a good time. I'll have a set of drinks but I'll be waking up clear-headed and ready to go for the US Open."

ROUND OF THE WEEK: Davies's 62 at Celtic Manor was notable not only for his fearless, attacking pin assaults, but also for the emphatic celebrations which accompanied each putt. The 25-year-old from Bridgend relished the support he received from the locals, and every roar and clenched fist acknowledged it.

PREDICTION OF THE WEEK: Rose will qualify for the US Open at Pebble Beach from his sectional qualifier with consummate ease, then finish joint third and remind everyone that he remains British golf's 'forgotten man'.

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