GULLANE, Scotland (Reuters) - Justin Rose plotted his way round a soggy course to claim his first major title at last month’s U.S. Open and will have to cope with completely opposite conditions if he is to win the British Open.
The 32-year-old Briton adopted a conservative game plan to master the notoriously difficult Merion layout and he believes he will need a similar approach to win at Muirfield where the ball is expected to run a long way on the sun-baked fairways.
“They’re polar opposites in the sense of how the ball is reacting on the ground but they’re similar in the sense of the strategy in them,” Rose told a news conference on Wednesday.
”Merion, I hit a lot of irons off the tee. I played defensively, sort of conservatively, and I felt that was the best way to approach it.
”Obviously as it turned out I was lucky that my game plan turned out to be exactly the right one, with one-over-par winning the tournament.
”It’s going to be quite a cautious game plan off the tee,“ said Rose. ”Once again, avoid the bunkers. The rough is obviously up but once you’re in the rough, you can catch the odd good lie as well.
“You need to respect the golf course around here.”
Rose has a poor record at the British Open, his best performance coming in 1998 when, as a 17-year-old amateur, he finished tied fourth at Birkdale.
“Coming in here off the back of my first major win, and obviously the U.S. Open, makes it even more special, I guess even more exciting than normal,” he said.
Rose was the first of a generation of talented English players, including Ryder Cup team mates Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, to win a major.
“It probably makes them even more determined, even more hungry to do it,” he said.
“Golf is an individual game but we are friends with one another. We’ve played a lot of golf with one another. When you see one of your friends go ahead and do it, it gives you that incentive and that belief possibly that you can go ahead and do it yourself.”
Rose has taken three weeks off since his triumph at Merion, resting up with his family.
“I’ve spent the last couple of weeks just getting my hunger back,” he said. “If I‘m going to get into contention and have a chance to win on Sunday that’s when the freshness and the break will serve me well.”
Rose struggled after his Birkdale breakthrough, missing the cut in his first 21 tournaments as a professional before slowly climbing the rankings to reach number three in the world.
“It’s been a learning process and it’s been sort of self-improvement over the years that’s enabled me to get to the point where I now believe in myself 100 percent down the stretch,” he said.
“The game is hard. You’re not going to win it every time. But if you feel like you’re going to stand up to the pressure and believe in yourself, and you feel like you have the skills to deal with it, then I think that’s all you can do.”
Editing by Tony Jimenez