CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (AP) — Justin Rose is closing in on a third consecutive top-10 finish in a major after shooting a 4-under 67 at the British Open on Saturday.
Tied for 15th and improving in each round at Carnoustie, the Englishman is trying to work out how to turn this consistency into winning a major title.
At 1 under, he still has eight strokes to make up on leader Sergio Garcia and knows that’s a long shot. But he doesn’t count himself out, especially if a round in the mid 60s causes those above him to seize up.
“Paul Lawrie was in a similar position, I would have thought, a few years ago,” Rose said, referring to the Scot making up 10 strokes in the final round to win the title in a playoff at Carnoustie in 1999.
“If somebody does post a number a few groups ahead, it’s certainly going to get the leaders’ attention, definitely.”
Rose, who famously tied for fourth as a 17-year-old amateur at the 1998 Open at Royal Birkdale, was in contention at both this year’s Masters — where he tied for fifth — and the U.S. Open at Oakmont, where he finished tied for 10th.
Rose, who turns 27 on July 30, has only won three times on the European Tour but has the potential to win majors, even though it took him 21 tournaments after turning pro before he finally made the cut.
Now that he’s performing well in golf’s biggest events, that nightmare spell is forgotten. Rose says he has come to terms with what he has to do to stay among the title contenders and possibly go a step further.
“I feel like I am who I am and I feel like I’ve figured out what works for me,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been learning all the time, and I feel I’ve been getting better and better at finishing the job off in the biggest situations, i.e. majors.
“I think what I’ve learned this year more than any year that the inner confidence and self belief is getting stronger and stronger. And that’s all I need. If you believe in yourself, nobody else needs to know that, as long as you do.”
Rose went into the tournament as one of the leading British hopes, but struggled in Thursday’s wet conditions and made a 4-over 75.
Having improved five shots on Friday, he made the cut by two strokes. Then Rose went three better on Saturday.
Rose began a run of three birdies in a row by holing a 35-foot putt at the fourth hole, followed by an eight-footer at the fifth. When his 3-wood second shot landed in a greenside bunker at the sixth, his shot from the sand ended up two feet from the flag.
He then had two bogeys in a row, but recovered with a 20-foot birdie putt and picked up two more strokes at the 14th and 17th holes.
He now feels there is an even better score inside him — but will be happy with another 67.
“Yeah, I think there is something,” Rose said. “I’m beginning to putt well. The putter is beginning to feel comfortable in my hands, which it hasn’t done, if I’m honest, for the last four weeks.
“If you’re hitting the ball nicely and you do make a few putts, obviously that equals a low score. This course you can’t force the score around here. Sixty-seven is a good score around here, to go much lower than that you’re going to have to really make a lot of putts.”