Rejuvenated Rose hangs on to Westwood's tail

Two years after turning professional in a blaze of publicity and then slumping to rock-bottom, Justin Rose at last showed some positive signs yesterday.

Two years after turning professional in a blaze of publicity and then slumping to rock-bottom, Justin Rose at last showed some positive signs yesterday.

The 19-year-old Englishman held his best position since leaving the amateur ranks, tieing for fourth place in the Dutch Open after an accomplished four under par 68. It was a long way from his heroics of 1998, when he finished tied fourth in the British Open as an amateur, but at last Rose could talk about a round with pride rather than embarrassment.

Since his introduction to the professional scene, cut after cut has been missed in invitation events, and his misery has been plotted with as much publicity as his remarkable achievement in the 1998 British Open. Rose currently lies 163rd on the Order of Merit after earning only $30,000 in 19 events this year, but fourth place here would virtually guarantee him his playing card for next year.

Having the likes of Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke here clearly drove Rose on in yesterday's opening round as he collected six birdies.

"It's been coming for a while." said a delighted Rose. "I'm hitting the ball much smoother, not laying into it. All that publicity was good and it obviously opened a lot of doors for me but now I'm trying to get back in the news for the right reasons."

Three weeks after retaining the European Open, Westwood has his sights on another successful title defence following his five-under-par 67.

Despite putting "like a chump for most of the day", Westwood tucked himself in just a stroke behind Australian Stephen Leaney and Richard Johnson.

Both Westwood and Leaney finished with two birdies after Rose had set the early pace. Westwood was later joined in third place by Mark Mouland, Roger Winchester, the Dane Anders Hansen and the little-known local player Ralph Miller.

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