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Justin Rose is hoping the memories of his “special” British Masters victory in 2002 will spur him on at The Belfry this week.

It’s been 21 years since Rose won the second of his 25 professional wins to date in this tournament at Woburn, where he edged out Ian Poulter for a one-shot victory.

“It was a great back and forth between myself and Ian,” Rose recalls. “We had a great duel, a ding-dong battle. He actually hosted me that week, so I wasn’t very gracious as a guest, but it was an amazing week.”

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It was a particularly poignant title for the Englishman, who still describes it as “one of the most significant victories” of his career.

“From more of an emotional point of view than anything,” he explains. “It was the one victory that my father was actually able to be there on the 18th green and witnessed himself in person.

“It will forever be special from that point of view.”

Rose will tee up at the four-time Ryder Cup venue for the first time in more than two decades – “I can’t remember the exact last time I played here, I think it was 2001 in the Benson & Hedges [International] days” – and he’s looking forward to home comforts.

“It’s great to be back,” he says. “It’s been a while since I’ve been able to be back playing on the DP World Tour, but it’s also it’s been really good catching up with the players – it always feels like it’s a bunch of new faces!

“And obviously it’s nice to be playing back on home soil as well. The course is looking good and this tournament has great character. It has these little touches and it does feel very British.

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“It’s going to be well supported and it has some energy building around it, and with Nick [Faldo] supporting the event now and being attached to it for for the foreseeable future is pretty good. It gives it more depth in terms of history and and significance, so I feel like the tournament is in a good spot.

“It’s always great to come back and play. There’s an extra bit of goodwill from the crowd and an awesome energy from that, which is always amazing.”

Rose is also confident any deal between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s PIF – or “recent noise”, as he calls it – can benefit the European circuit. But, he says, it also relies on the stars to step up.

“These tournaments have a great support and great history and I think they deserve to really have the support of tours, which they do, but also have the support of top players because that’s clearly the currency in which we all trade in. Top players make a tournament.

“If there’s too much competition, like three tours vying for one product – players – it does become very, very difficult, so hopefully that is what we’re all trying to move towards is a more unified system.

“No one knows how quite we’re going to get there, but hopefully the DP World Tour is going to be a huge beneficiary of any changes, so events like this will have a much better chance of getting them strength of strength.”

The Betfred British Masters, hosted by Sir Nick Faldo, gets underway at The Belfry on Thursday. You can read our full preview here.

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Alex Perry is the Associate Editor of bunkered. A journalist for more than 20 years, he has been a golf industry stalwart for the majority of his career and, in a five-year spell at ESPN, covered every sporting event you can think of. He completed his own Grand Slam at the 2023 Masters, having fallen in love with the sport at his hometown club of Okehampton and on the links of nearby Bude & North Cornwall.

Associate Editor

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