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Justin Rose’s Alternate Status Is Inspiration at British Open

Two wins in the U.S. in the past six weeks
English golfer Justin Rose watches his drive from the 2nd tee during his opening Round of the British Open Golf Championship at St Andrews. Photographer: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

Justin Rose’s long day waiting on the practice tee at St. Andrews inspired the Englishman to make the field at this year’s British Open.

Rose was the first alternate the last time the Open was played on the Old Course in 2005 and waited on the driving range from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. for someone to drop out, which didn’t happen. He was in the same situation a month later at the U.S. PGA Championship and again didn’t get to play.

“That spurred me on,” Rose said today at press conference today at St. Andrews. “I just did not like the feeling. I wanted to be a part of it, felt I should be a part of it.”

Two wins in the U.S. in the past six weeks guaranteed that Rose will be playing when the Open begins tomorrow. It’s his ninth appearance in the championship and his first at the Scottish course known as the “Home of Golf.”

“To me it’s the Open to play,” said Rose, who will be paired with top-ranked Tiger Woods and Colombia’s Camilo Villegas in the first two rounds. “It’s the one I wanted to play. I’m glad it worked out.”

The 29-year-old Rose made his debut at the Open as an amateur in 1998, pitching in on the final hole to finish fourth. As a professional, his best finishes have been 12th in 2007 and a tie for 13th last year.

Rose has two wins in his last three starts on the U.S. PGA Tour. He has four top-10 finishes in 15 starts this season and is third on the U.S. money list with almost $3.2 million.

“Confidence comes with good play and there’s certainly been some of that recently for me to enjoy,” he said.

Rose, No. 16 in the Official World Golf Ranking, is among five top golfers expected to challenge to become the first Englishman to win the Open since Nick Faldo in 1992.

English Contenders

Third-ranked Lee Westwood, No. 7 Luke Donald, No. 8 Ian Poulter and No. 10 Paul Casey have each come close in recent years. Westwood and Donald both finished in the top five last year, while Poulter was runner-up to Padraig Harrington as Casey tied for seventh in 2008.

“You look at the world rankings, you look at the opportunity for us, it’s probably better than it’s been, dare I say numbers-wise, ever,” Rose said. “Just using that basis, I think one of us will be in contention Sunday afternoon.”

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