Justin Rose revels in memorable season

Justin Rose, a young Englishman with a worldful of expectations heaped his way four years ago, is in the process of formulating a season for British fans to remember.

Rose, 21, won his fourth tournament of the season, and of his professional career, when he finished at 19 under par June 2 in the $1.9 million Victor Chandler British Masters.

He shot 70-69-65-65–269 to earn 329,373 euros (approximately $307,405). It was his fourth victory worldwide this year, his second on the PGA European Tour, and he moved to seventh on the Order of Merit.

“It’s nice to win one of the premier events on tour,” Rose said. “Although I had won three times, I hadn’t won a full field event in England, and now I’ve knocked that on the head.”

Rose defeated best friend Ian Poulter down the stretch to take the title. Poulter finished second, one stroke behind after a final-round 68. He earned 219,572 euros (approximately $204,927).

Welshman Phillip Price, the third-round leader, was third at 15 under and Colin Montgomerie finished fourth at 14 under.

Followers of British golf have been expecting great things of Rose since he finished fourth in the British Open at Royal Birkdale as a 17-year-old amateur. It’s taken Rose a while to deliver, but he’s doing so in spades this season.

“Mentally I’m really strong this year,” Rose said. “I’m making a lot less errors. I only made four bogeys all week and none today.”

Rose turned professional on the heels of his Birkdale success, but missed his first 21 cuts as a pro. He then made three trips to qualifying school before he found his feet.

He finished 33rd on tour last season to keep his card, and made his mark when he won the Dunhill Championship in January. He then won the Vodacom Championship on the Southern Africa Tour, and added his third victory when he won the Chunichi Crowns on the Japan Golf Tour.

Now he has his sights set on bigger things.

“I’d like to say a major would be the next step,” he said. “Muirfield? Who knows? It is my favorite tournament in the whole world.”

Rose and Poulter are two of the most exciting prospects in British golf, and they are also best friends.

They room together on tour and rarely are out of each other’s company. In fact, Rose was staying at Poulter’s house during the tournament. Even though they have played hundreds of practice rounds together, they had never played together on tour.

So when they found themselves drawn together along with Welshman Phillip Price in the last round, they knew it could only go one way.

“I think it’s going to be a ding-dong battle,” Poulter said on the eve of the final 18 holes. So it proved.

Rose and Poulter traded blows throughout the final round. They were tied at 19 under until Poulter three-putted the par-4 16th for a bogey.

Poulter had a chance to force a playoff on the final green, but missed his 8-foot birdie putt.

“I said to Justin when we got on the back nine, ‘This is what we play golf for,’ ” Poulter said. “I laughed and said, ‘At the beginning of the week, who would have thought that me and you would be coming down the last fighting for it?’

“It is great to see him win again this year. I am happy with my performance this week.”

Montgomerie had a 67 and might have won the tournament with a better front nine. The Scot parred the first eight holes before making his first birdie at No. 9.

He then came home in 32 for his 67.

“I’m hitting the ball great off the tee and the irons are fine,” he said. “I just didn’t really putt well this week. That’s why I finished five behind.”

Montgomerie moved to second on the Order of Merit. He has finished fourth, second, second and third in his last four tournaments.

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