Rose wants return to innocence at Open

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Rose finished two shots behind Mark O’Meara, who won the 1998 title in a play-off
2017 Open Championship on the BBC
Venue: Royal Birkdale Dates: 20-23 July
Live: Listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary and follow text updates – including in-play video clips – on BBC Sport website and mobile app. TV highlights on BBC Two. Click for full times.

Justin Rose is hoping to recreate the “innocence” of his performance as a 17-year-old amateur at Royal Birkdale in 1998 at this week’s Open Championship.

The Englishman chipped in for a birdie on the last hole to finish tied fourth.

“It surprises me that is still the best finish,” said the 2013 US Open and 2016 Olympic champion.

“The freedom I had that week, the confidence I had in my short game, the innocence in which I played the game, I think, is kind of still a model.”

Rose equalled the record low score for an amateur at The Open with a 66 in round two on the par-70 course, before delighting the crowd with his 50-yard birdie chip on the Sunday.

“When I look back I marvel at how I was able to compete so closely down the stretch, and finish within two shots of winning an Open Championship at the age of 17,” reflected the 36-year-old.

“It’s definitely a championship I’ve had great moments in.

“I don’t want to say that if I don’t win this it’s going to be a huge sort of hole in my career, but it was the one tournament that even before I finished fourth here as an amateur, I got to final qualifying at the age of 14 and created a bit of a story then.

“And to win it would kind of close the book in a way on my Open Championship story.”

‘Wise’ Westwood plotting his challenge

Westwood has made the cut in 59 of his previous 77 majors

Lee Westwood plans to use “cunning and guile” to plot his way to a first major victory at his 78th attempt.

The 44-year-old has finished in the top three at majors nine times – a record for a player yet to win one – and three of those have come at The Open.

Darren Clarke, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson were all over 40 when they won successive Championships from 2011.

“You have to think your way round,” said Englishman Westwood.

“I’m 44 and you think a little bit differently as you get older, but hopefully I can think a bit more wisely and use a bit of cunning and guile on the golf course.”

Westwood missed out on a play-off at the 2009 Open at Turnberry by one shot, was a distant second to Louis Oosthuizen in 2010 and then let slip a two-shot advantage when leading into the final round at Muirfield in 2013.

He believes links golf offers him the best chance of winning one of the sport’s four majors.

“One of the times I’ve come close to winning was Turnberry and Tom Watson lost in a play-off at 59,” he added. “Last time it was held around here [in 2008] Greg Norman made a run at it at 53.

“The US Open course [in June at Erin Hills] was a bomber’s style course where they had a big advantage, but this course brings a lot more players into it.

“The Open Championship always does with the weather and the way the golf course plays.”

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