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Disappointed at the lack of BBC television coverage for this week’s Open? Justin Rose shares your pain.

The former world No.1 has shared his belief that the world’s oldest major should be available on free-to-air TV, insisting that terrestrial broadcasters are critical to growing the game.

Since 2016, the championship has been shown exclusively live in the UK on Sky Sports, with the BBC retaining a highlights package.

However, speaking in the latest edition of bunkered, issue 203, Rose insisted that more of it should “absolutely, 100%” be available to non-paying customers.

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“The most avid golf fans probably have Sky,” said the Englishman. “If that’s your thing, why wouldn’t you? The people who don’t but who would still gladly sit through eight hours of coverage will probably still find a way to watch it, too.

“But they aren’t the only people we’re trying to reach.

“We should be trying to connect with the casual golf fan and young kids. Hopefully, they’ll watch us playing in the Open, competing for one of the biggest prizes in our sport, and be inspired to at least give it a try.

“That’s how you grow the game, by connecting with the masses. You need a strong base and to make the grassroots as strong as possible.”

The former US Open champion and Olympic gold medallist added: “Let’s say a thousand kids watch. Of them, maybe half will continue. Of those, let’s say 100 join a club. Maybe a handful will progress through the junior, county and national set-ups. Perhaps one turns professional and makes it onto the tour. That’s success by any measure.

“The stronger and bigger a base you have, the more the game thrives, and the greater your chances of unearthing the next superstar. But you have to be able to see it to be it. That’s so important.

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“It’s about relatability, too. You need to be able to see that these guys are not that different from you and that you don’t need to be all prim and proper and all those other things that people think about golf from afar.

“Watching the Open on the BBC was a big factor in getting me hooked on the game. Even now, I still get a buzz when I hear the theme music or think about it.”

Rose travels to Royal Liverpool this week bidding to become the first English golfer to win the Claret Jug on home soil since Tony Jacklin in 1969.

He goes there full of confidence, too, having won his 11th PGA Tour title earlier this year at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he’s making no secret of his desire to add his name to the iconic silverware.

“If I was to choose one major to win between now and the end of my career, the Open would be the one. No question.

“It would round out my career nicely and would be a nice full circle moment for my career, given that the Open is really where it all started for me at Royal Birkdale back in ‘98.

“I look at it as my best chance, too. I’m 42 now. Sooner or later, the US Open, the US PGA, perhaps even the Masters, they’ll all get too long and too difficult for me. That’s just what happens as you get older. But links golf is a great equaliser.

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“Look at all the guys who’ve won the Open in their forties in the last decade or so. Darren Clarke, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, I think Henrik [Stenson] might even have been forty when he won in 2016.

“Tom Watson was a shot away from winning it at 59. He wouldn’t have competed elsewhere but links golf offers you that opportunity, and I’m determined to grasp it.”

• Read the full interview with Justin Rose in issue 203 of bunkered, on-sale now from all good newsagents. Alternately, click here to subscribe.


author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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