LONDON: Tony Jacklin on Monday praised Justin Rose’s courage after seeing him become the first English winner of one of golf’s Major championships in 17 years with his victory at the US Open.
Rose’s two-shot victory at the Merion course in Pennsylvania was the first in a Major since Nick Faldo took the 1996 US Masters title.
The South Africa-born Rose’s success also ended a wait of more than four decades for an English US Open champion since Jacklin’s own triumph at Hazeltine in Minnesota back in 1970.
Rose announced himself to the golf world as a 17-year-old amateur when he finished in a tie for fourth in the 1998 British Open at Royal Birkdale, in northwest England.
But the now 32-year-old struggled early on in his professional career, infamously missing 21 consecutive cuts before winning his first event in the paid ranks in 2002.
“I was thrilled for him. I know what he’s gone through in his professional life,” Jacklin told BBC radio.
“I was obviously around when he had that audacious chip-in at Birkdale at 17 and witnessed the difficult time he had after turning pro and all the struggles that he had.
“To fight through that, it takes a lot of courage. What was shown at Merion was exactly that.”
“He finished like a true champion,” the 68-year-old Jacklin added of Rose.
“It take a lot of courage to win a Major championship. You have to stay in the moment, which sounds very easy but when the stakes are high it’s very hard.
“To come through it is fantastic and I was proud of him. He’s a good guy, he’s good for the game.”
Rose’s final round par 70 on Sunday saw him to a 72-hole one over par total of 281 and victory by two shots over US star Phil Mickelson and Australia’s Jason Day.
His win came too late for most of Monday’s first editions of the UK national press but their websites gave a foretaste of Tuesday’s headlines.
Under the headline, “Rose to the top”, the tabloid The Sun, London said: “Justin Rose’s love affair with the Majors enjoyed a fairytale ending as he claimed the US Open crown in glorious style last (Sunday) night.”
It was a point echoed by the Daily Telegraph, who reflected on Rose’s “long and winding road from Royal Birkdale”, with chief sports writer Paul Hayward observing: “He (Rose) might have disappeared into the world of pub quizzes and where-are-they-nows.
“As the drama intensified at Merion last (Sunday) night, the goodwill of all those who have admired his grace and perseverance accompanied him.”
Following a superb drive on the 18th, Rose, who moved with his family from South Africa to the southern English county of Hampshire as a five-year-old, eventually got his ball to within an inch of a last hole made famous by US golf great Ben Hogan for a simple tap-in before looking skywards.
“No explanation was necessary. On Father’s Day he was thinking of his dad Ken, the man who introduced him to the game, who died of cancer in 2002 at the age of just 57,” wrote Derek Lawrenson, golf correspondent of the Daily Mail. — AFP
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