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|All English eyes will be on Justin Rose this week at Royal Birkdale. (PGA of America)|
Criticizing Sergio Garcia is fun and easy. He says dumb things from time to time and dresses as though Adidas is paying him per retna burned.
So while Garcia has had a few close calls in recent British Opens, including his excruciating miss on Carnoustie's 72nd hole last year, it's easy to call this year's Open, one where the door has been left wide open by an absent Tiger Woods, the Open that Sergio must win.
But there is another 20-something out there who will be feeling the pressure even more than Sergio this week at Royal Birkdale.
England's Great White Bloke: Justin Rose.
It was 10 years ago when a 17-year-old Rose broke onto the scene at this very golf course as an amateur and finished tied for fourth place in the 1998 Open.
He turned pro the following week with expectations as high as Garcia's were after his electrifying run at Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship.
Now 27, it remains Rose's best finish in a major to date.
Garcia on the other hand, while also major-less, has two runner-ups and a T3 in the majors. He also has 17 pro wins to Rose's seven.
Rose is one of many talented 20-somethings overhyped by fans, media (and his own website: "Europe's No. 1 Golfer"). Lately he's made a habit of finding himself in contention in the early rounds of majors, only to wither away on the weekend.
He takes a No. 9 ranking into this week's Open, two behind No. 7 Garcia, but the local eyes will weigh much heavier on Rose. No Englishman has won the Open Championship since Nick Faldo in 1992, who also holds the nation's last major win, at the Masters in 1996.
The Brits should be getting impatient with their phenom right about now. Expect the U.K. newspapers to be all over Rose's shortfalls this week if he can't top his T4 finish from 1998.
So Sergio is (relatively) off the hook this week. It's "show me" time for Europe's self-proclaimed "No. 1 Golfer."
July 16, 2008
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
The sun came out over Wales Monday, and Senior Writer Brandon Tucker ditched the final round of Ryder Cup play for 18 holes at nearby Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club. As the Americans rallied and ultimately fell short, Tucker offers his unique perspective on the European victory and the celebration that ensued.
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