The Open 2018: Justin Rose ready to better his teenage exploits at home major
|The 147th Open Championship|
|Venue: Carnoustie, Scotland Dates: 19-22 July|
|Coverage: Live across BBC Radio, highlights on BBC TV and online, live text commentaries on BBC website.|
Britain's top golfer, Justin Rose, has been typically meticulous preparing for this week's Open, the major he admits has got away from him more than any other.
The 37-year-old Englishman arrives at Carnoustie having never bettered his debut finish of tied fourth as a teenage amateur two decades ago.
Now ranked three in the world, he is a major and Olympic champion but the 2013 US Open winner agrees he has never quite done himself justice in his home leg of golf's Grand Slam.
Rose has been based in Britain since finishing in a share of 10th place at Shinnecock Hills in last month's US Open. It was one of an extraordinary 17 top-10 finishes, including four wins, since last August's US PGA Championship.
This remarkable level of consistency gives him plenty of confidence for Carnoustie. Furthermore, diligent practice on the parched fairways of Surrey has helped prepare him for the fast and firm conditions that await on the Angus coast.
Rose made a special visit to Scotland to see them first hand and further refine his Open masterplan. There was also a useful competitive workout at Gullane with four rounds in the 60s as he finished tied ninth at last week's Scottish Open.
"Preparation, for me, is what it is all about coming into these big championships," Rose told BBC Sport.
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"You'll get the odd guy who kind of flukes it round, but someone who has put the time and effort in to get prepared and figure out a gameplan and strategy in these conditions will be the guy who really does well."
Following a low-histamine diet to help quell the hay fever that often dogs him at this time of year has become standard procedure. Rose also meticulously charts sleep patterns and thought processes in his quest for peak performance at the biggest events.
But he has yet to find a formula for Open success, the major he seemed born to win. This is the 20th anniversary of him holing out with a pitch at the last to become a 17-year-old winner of the silver medal at Royal Birkdale.
"It's a style of golf I still enjoy, but maybe I used up all my luck in 98," Rose said. "Hopefully there's enough years left in me to find another bit of inspiration."
This is his 17th Open and a share of sixth in 2015 is his next best finish. It is a modest return for someone who has developed into such a consistent force at the very top of the game.
"It does surprise me," Rose admitted. "I would have thought the odds of me playing better would be pretty good. But I have had looks, even if the results don't show it.
"I have had Opens where I've had good opportunities and been very close to playing very well, so it's not all a loss for me. It is not as though I can't play this style of golf; I've won the Scottish Open before and played well in the Dunhill Links in the past."
But he accepts that this is the major where he has failed to fulfil his true potential. "Yeah definitely," he said.
"I think this is the one that would feel so good, and to have that Claret Jug on the dinner table most nights for the following year after winning would certainly be a treat. And for me it would be a full circle event for sure.
"This is, for the British public, where I broke on to the scene and there have been lots of ups and downs in between because it's 20 years, obviously since 98.
"Yeah, if I could win a Claret Jug it would be an incredible moment in my career and obviously being a British player it's the one you desperately want to win."
Reed ready for double bid
A Rose victory or one for other UK talents such as Carnoustie course record holder Tommy Fleetwood, double Dunhill Links winner Tyrrell Hatton or the increasingly mercurial Rory McIlroy would break the current American stranglehold on the majors.
But other echoes of 1998 might point towards another US success, with Patrick Reed looking to emulate Mark O'Meara by completing a Masters/Open double in the same year.
And why not? Reed actively embraces Scottish golf and feels he has a mental '15th club' with the positivity he can harness from his maiden major win at Augusta last April. "The biggest thing is that it has just given me confidence," Reed told BBC Sport.
"You know, everyone has the confidence they can win golf tournaments and win a big event but when you get out in that situation and you haven't done it yet, there is still a little bit of doubt that creeps in your mind.
"Closing out at Augusta, finishing off the tournament and winning my first major, now I have the confidence that I know I can win majors. I've already done it and I can keep that pedal down and when the Open comes I can go out and try and win that one too."
Like Rose, Reed has done plenty of preparation and also went on a scouting mission to Carnoustie before the Scottish Open where he finished in a share of 23rd place.
The American was shocked by the rock-hard fairways. In a practice round he attempted to lay up to a ditch 310 yards away from the fifth tee with a three iron. It was too much club. His four iron, five iron and six iron proved likewise. Ultimately, he found he needed a seven iron to lay up short of the hazard and that shot ran out at 295 yards.
"It wasn't even blowing hard or downhill," the Masters champion told me.
But the capricious nature of links golf does not faze him. "I love it," Reed said.
"I feel like it plays really well in my game because when it is that fast and that firm, as it was when I was practising up there, you will get some bounces that put you in bad spots.
"But you're going to hit some bad shots that end up in good spots and I feel like mentally I can handle that. I feel like there are some guys out there, mentally, they just can't handle it."
And with that Reed identifies the key point likely to determine success at this week's championship. He seems ready for the challenge but so does Rose.
Due diligence done, victory for either would be richly deserved.