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The British golfer won the US Open last year, 15 years after coming an impressive fourth as an amateur in The Open – aged just 17. The former European Tour number one now has five wins in the US. Ahead of his appearance at the Ryder Cup in September, Justin Rose talks to The Faster Track about the thrill of team events and why he avoids golf courses on holiday.
Interview by Tim Hulse
Should all golfers be made to wear white trousers?
Absolutely not! I wear white trousers occasionally, but I’ve gone off them, even though I won the US Open in a pair. If you’re playing in summer and it’s a nice day, I’m all for it. But let’s face it, in the UK, in January, I’m not sure white trousers are appropriate. What I wear is important, both from a functional and a style point of view. I don’t want you to notice me from 100 yards, but hopefully up close you’ll think, “That’s well put together.”
What’s the most exciting hole you’ve played?
There are a couple on tour that really get your heart rate elevated, like the 12th at Augusta and the 17th at TPC Sawgrass (Florida). Both are very short par threes, but they have small landing surfaces and if you miss, it’s so disgruntling. The heart skips a beat and the crowd’s anticipation is palpable.
Where would you most like to build a golf course?
Somewhere in the Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire area – the best kind of golf terrain. In summer it gets linksy and firm, and in the winter it drains really well. You have trees and beautiful rolling hills. That’s how I grew up playing and first learnt the game.
What’s the most distracting view from a golf course?
In terms of natural beauty, Cypress Point on California’s Monterey peninsula. The last few holes along the coastline are stunning – you’re hitting over ravines and cliffs.
How well do you think you’d play with equipment from the 1970s compared with today’s high-tech clubs?
I like to think I’d play equally well, relative to the field – but if I were to play the same course today, I’d probably be two shots worse. The equipment these days helps the average ball striker much more. But people don’t realise that with advances in technology, the course conditions are more extreme: greens are much firmer and faster, bunkers a little different and chipping surfaces much tighter.
Do you get a bigger thrill playing as an individual or in a team?
In a team – the camaraderie is fantastic. In the Ryder Cup you have 11 players rooting for you; as an individual, you’re against everyone else.
Do you base holiday decisions on the golfing opportunities?
Absolutely – we only go to places where there isn’t any golf! When my wife and I are planning a holiday, she’ll say, “Is there a golf course at that hotel?” I’ll say, “Yes.” And she’ll say, “OK, let’s go to the other one.”
British Airways is the official global airline partner of Justin Rose, winner of the US Open 2013