Fresh Rose leaves Wie in the shade

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The Independent Online

Where Justin Rose is concerned there are so many gardening analogies you can pick your own. Suffice to say, following a frustrating 2004, that Rose made a heartening start to the new season by putting himself a stroke behind the leader, Shigeki Maruyama, at the halfway stage of the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Where Justin Rose is concerned there are so many gardening analogies you can pick your own. Suffice to say, following a frustrating 2004, that Rose made a heartening start to the new season by putting himself a stroke behind the leader, Shigeki Maruyama, at the halfway stage of the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Rose, at seven under after rounds of 67 and 66, spearheaded what is going to be an unprecedented British invasion of the American circuit this year. He was also faster out of the blocks than his Ryder Cup countrymen. Luke Donald was nine strokes off the lead while, along with their Oakland Hills captain, Bernhard Langer, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey missed the cut.

With rounds of 75 and 74 for nine over par, Casey exactly matched the performance of the 15-year-old schoolgirl Michelle Wie, who was playing in her home tournament for the second year running. Greg Owen, on his US Tour debut, just made the cut, while Brian Davis, who won the US Qualifying School so impressively last month, and Phillip Price, are yet to start their campaigns.

Rose has decided to play exclusively in the States at the start of the season when in past years he has always supported the European Tour events in the land of his birth. Instead, the South African Open this week in Durban will feature Darren Clarke, who will donate his prize money to the Tsunami Relief Appeal. His appearance is due to the positive progress his wife, Heather, is making in her treatment for cancer.

As the European Tour globetrots through Asia and Oceania, the main feature will be Colin Montgomerie's attempt to qualify for the Players' Championship and the Masters. Rose, 70th in the world rankings, is also aiming to get back into the top 50.

The 24-year-old has not won since 2002. Last year he collapsed at the Masters after leading at halfway and failed to get into The Open or the Ryder Cup team. "I didn't feel left out because I didn't do what I had to do," Rose said. "But I feel I am every bit as good as those guys who did.

"My goal this year is to win and I can't wait to do it," Rose added. "But the key is to focus on the process of putting the little building blocks in place. That's what I have been concentrating on in the off-season, things like increasing my scrambling percentage and strategy on par-fives."

Rose turned professional just before his 18th birthday, and Wie may follow suit. Having missed the cut by a stroke last year, she struggled in the windier conditions and was seven adrift this time. She thought she tried too hard.

If she is invited back, Wie indicated that she would not get caught up in all the shoot-outs and pro-ams of a busy week as the star attraction. Instead of seeking further invitations to men's events, she will now concentrate on the top amateur tournaments and the LPGA circuit. She has already finished fourth in a women's major championship.

Some say she should be winning at her own level, but Wie is in a unique position. She had cleaned up in Hawaii by the age of 12, and while experience of college golf might be the next step, that will not be available until it is too late. Hence the ventures into the adult profession.

Meanwhile, there was going to be shopping this weekend and then it will be back to the books at school, where her subjects include physics, Japanese and Chinese. She is also about to learn to drive - in a car, that is.

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