Rose hoping to hit heights again at Wentworth
Tuesday 20 May 2008
Justin Rose has been playing so wretchedly of late that anyone seeing him clambering on to the roof of the old Millennium Dome yesterday morning might well have been tempted to shout up: "Don't do it, Justin. Think of everything you have going for you..."
Fortunately, such fears would have been groundless. The young Englishman was only up there, 50 metres in the sky, hitting balls as part of his promotional duties for the BMW PGA Championship that starts on Thursday at Wentworth.
It was supposed to be a cross between James Bond in The World Is Not Enough and Tony Jacklin's famous drive across the Thames in the Seventies. Alas, Rose's recent poor form denied the organisers a clever little tie-in. Not so long ago he was ranked 007 in the world. Rose is out of the top 10 now.
Since leading after the first round of the Masters six weeks ago, he has endured the sort of run that spiralled him out of the world's top 100 two years ago, although he is hoping that a return to the scene of what remains his most famous moment might provide some inspiration for this week's prestigious event.
Before last Thursday, Rose had only been back to Royal Birkdale once since finishing fourth there as a 17-year-old amateur in 1998 and then it was only a fleeting visit.
He was playing at a Challenge Tour event in nearby Formby Hall, thought it would be nice to visit Birkdale but got as far as the car park, lost his nerve and drove straight out.
Older and maturer, he was pleased by what he saw this time around and equally content that he has wiped the canvas clean. "It was important I got the reminiscences out of the way before the Open in July," he said.
He played 36 holes on the Southport links, went to the FA Cup final and had "a curry with a few mates" as he enjoyed his first visit to Britain in five months. And then on Sunday, he reacquainted himself with Wentworth, where he lost out in a play-off last year to the Dane Anders Hansen.
That apparently went well too, and Rose feels the good times are just around one of the West Course's doglegs.
"Wentworth is one of my favourite courses," said Rose. "I've been going to the tournament there since I was a kid. Last year this was a key week for me in terms of a platform for a good year, so I am hoping it will, again, be a good tournament for me to get some form going."
It will be difficult, though, as the European Tour's flagship event includes Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen and the other leading Britons, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Paul Casey.
Still, Rose's experience at the O2 Arena no doubt helped and at least he did not embarrass himself next to his co-star at the stunt, Mick Hucknall. The trouble is, as he told the Simply Red frontman, that those Wentworth fairways are too tight to mention.
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