Rose uses experience to avoid the Tiger trap

Perhaps Tiger Woods should have been asked whether he will be intimidated when playing with Justin Rose in the first two rounds of this Open Championship and not vice versa. After all, the Englishman has won two of his last three events – and the American has not won any of his last six.

But then, this is Woods we are talking about and "the opportunity for distraction" as Rose quaintly put it will be as obvious as it will be dangerous. When the world No 1 tees off on the Old Course at 9.09am on Thursday he will be under more scrutiny than ever before in an Open. And Rose will be part of the circus.

"I was not surprised to be honest – I kind of called it actually," said Rose, who will also have the Colombian Camilo Villegas for company. "When I heard the draw I stayed flatline. Wasn't up or down. At a St Andrews Open the course is the iconic thing. No one is bigger than that this week. It's got the opportunity to be a distraction for sure, but I was always going to get a fairly busy group. I don't think it has ramped it up."

While some may doubt his nonchalance, Rose does have previous experience of the media maul which is an Open round with Woods. Eight years ago at Muirfield, when he was just 21, the Royal and Ancient handed him the most dubious "honour" in golf. He admitted to the nerves running amok on that occasion. Only his late father Ken had the wherewithal to put the pieces back together.

"He gave me a great speech," he said. "Dad was going through tough times with his health and that put it all in perspective. He sat me down and said it's just a round of golf. He was facing tough times, so it wasn't a big deal. I remember playing fairly well. I got off to a flier."

Indeed he did, outscoring the player who had won that year's first two majors 68 to 70. Rose slumped to a 75 on the Friday but the experience clearly served him well. When he was paired with Woods once again in 2007 at Carnoustie he put himself in contention for the weekend, eventually finishing tied for 12th. "Tiger is good to play with," said Rose. "He always compliments good shots. You can't ask for anything more from a playing partner. I don't try to get into conversation but if it happens naturally he will respond."

Rose certainly anticipates no heckling, despite the extra-marital scandal which has seen Woods transformed from the revered into the ridiculed. "I heard the atmosphere was muted when he [Woods] played yesterday, but it will be like sheep – if people start to clap him then everybody will follow suit," said Rose. "He will be respected like everybody else because I think that's what an Open crowd does. They are here for the golf. If he gets playing well I think they will be excited and respond accordingly."

Yesterday Woods went out at 6.30am, starting from the third tee and ducking into the Old Course Hotel after hitting three balls in the thick rough on the 17th. His mood was as understated as it had been on Sunday – there was little of the new "cuddly" Tiger who engaged with the Masters crowd so willingly a few months ago. Regardless of the rumours of an imminent divorce, Woods had his game face on. It will be interesting to see how he reacts at 11am today when the British press he has never warmed to stage the latest inquisition. It says much about the bizarre world Woods now occupies, that his press conference is sure to attract as many headlines as his first round.

None of which will remotely interest the player ranked just two places below Woods. Lee Westwood said yesterday: "I've got my own problems to worry about." And as he limped off the first tee they were clear for all to see. A scan last week revealed he has a ruptured plantaris muscle in his right calf, an injury which normally requires six to eight weeks recuperation.

"Obviously with the biggest tournament on the calendar this week, I can't really afford to do that," he said. "So it's just a case of managing it, strapping it up, trying to keep the swelling from getting any worse and playing as well as I can. It doesn't hurt as much as it did in Paris, but it's obviously not right. I haven't had much preparation but they say, 'Beware the injured golfer'. Hopefully that will ring true."

Selected tee-off times

(Thursday) 08.20 L Glover (US); R McIlroy; T Clark (SA).

08.42 I Poulter; E Els (SA); S Cink (US).

09.09 T Woods (US); J Rose; C Villegas (Col).

09.20 P Harrington; R Ishikawa (Japan); T Watson (US).

09.53 D Clarke; M Weir (Can); D Love III (US).

13.31 P Casey;......... A Cabrera......... (Arg); R Fowler (US).

13.42 M A Jimenez (Sp); L Westwood;......... A Scott (Aus).

13.53 G McDowell; J Furyk (US); ......... G Ogilvy (Aus).

14.20 C Montgomerie; P Mickelson (US); R Goosen (SA).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral