It’s almost exactly 20 years since Justin Rose turned professional, so the Englishman is long enough in the tooth to know that talk of a possible sub-60 round at Gullane over the next four days might just be fanciful.
“Obviously there’s a lot of run on the ball at the moment,” acknowledged Rose of this week’s test for the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open being similar to the one next door at Muirfield for the 2013 Open Championship.
“But I can’t imagine the greens are soft, so if you are in the rough it’s not like you’re going to be able to fly it on the green and hold the ball, and also the fairways will play very, very, very small. So, if anyone does shoot that kind of round, they have had the ball on a string. You’ll see a lot of high scores, as well.”
World No 3 Rose, who is bidding to repeat his 2014 win in this event at Royal Aberdeen, added: “For me, it’s going to be a lot about positioning the ball off the tee. If you are in the fairway with a wedge in your hand, any golf course is gettable. But the key is going to be getting in the fairway with a wedge in your hand and I think that could be easier said than done this week. It’s very tempting to try and shoot 60, but you’re going to shoot 74 a lot trying to shoot 60. What you want to figure out is how to shoot 66, 67 daily.”
Rickie Fowler signed for two 66s and a pair of 68s as he won here in 2015. On the back of that victory, there’s now a ‘Rickie’s Bar’ in the main clubhouse and the world No 7 was happy to pay a visit on the eve of this event to sign autographs for a group of Gullane juniors.
“It’s pretty cool to feel as welcome as we do in Scotland, especially at places like this where we’ve won,” admitted the 29-year-old Californian earlier in his pre-event press conference.
“To be taken in and felt like a local after we won and now to have the bar named after us, I should just get a place and become semi-part-time resident here in Gullane.”
Rose and Fowler are among five players from the world’s top 20 teeing it up this week, the others being Masters champion Patrick Reed, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and 2013 winner Phil Mickelson.