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Justin Rose has played in 20 Open Championships and yet his finest hour remains his debut.

Sure, there have been top tens – the best of which was a tie for second at Carnoustie, when he holed a 15-foot putt to make the cut before weekend scores of 64 and 69 saw him overtake everyone on the leaderboard except eventual champion Francesco Molinari.

But when we think of Rose’s contribution to our Open memory banks, we cast our minds back to that glorious day on the Merseyside coast in 1998 when the fresh-faced Englishman, still a few days short of his 18th birthday, holed his 50-yard wedge shot for birdie on Birkdale’s famous finishing hole to finish in a tie for fourth and take home the Silver Medal for low amateur.

Rose has only missed five Opens since that day he announced himself to the world, and while you think a current Ryder Cup player – and shoo-in for the captaincy in the near future – might find his way into golf’s oldest major without the need to qualify, that wasn’t to be the case for the current 66th-ranked player in the world.

• Sergio Garcia in hot water after lashing out at Open officials

• Ryder Cup stars face mixed fortunes at Open Qualifying

So off Rose went to Burnham & Berrow – the glorious Somerset links at which he won the the English Boys’ Under-18 Open Amateur Stroke-Play Championship, otherwise known as the Carris Trophy, in 1995 – in a bid to book at least two tee times at the 152nd Open at Royal Troon in two weeks’ time.

And it didn’t take long to get a feel for the place. An opening round of 66 was beaten by just Abraham Ancer, before a second 18 of 68 saw Rose top the leaderboard to claim one of four precious qualifying spots.

“Right now I’ve a little bit of a buzz because it’s super exciting to have got through,” he told Sky Sports after his day.

But don’t be fooled into thinking Rose just wants to show his face at Troon because he likes playing in the big events. No, he’s going there to finally put the Claret Jug in his bulging trophy room.

“There’s moments where you’ll just want to qualify for The Open just to be at another Open,” he added. “And that might come in my career.

“But I still feel like I can win The Open.”

Rose’s major fortunes this year have been mixed. Missed cuts at Augusta and Pinehurst sandwiched a tie for sixth at the PGA Championship thanks to a brilliant third-round 64 at Valhalla.

But Rose, whose sole major victory came at the 2013 US Open, is just happy that he’s ticked the first of several boxes that end with him getting his hands on golf’s most famous trophy.

“To win it, you’ve got to be in it,” he added. “So that was key today, to come here and get the job done to give myself an opportunity at that dream.”

Rose is one of golf’s – and life’s – good guys. There wouldn’t be a dry eye in Ayrshire.

We’ll be recording episodes of The bunkered Podcast every day from The Open – so make sure you’re subscribed!

author headshot

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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