Rose breaks American drought with Memorial triumph

ENGLAND'S Justin Rose finally broke his American duck with arguably the finest round of his life at the Memorial Tournament at Muirhead Village, Ohio.

Playing the 162nd event of his PGA Tour career, Rose came from four behind Rickie Fowler to triumph by three with a magnificent closing 66, the low round of the day, and 18 under par total of 270. It makes the 29-year-old the third European to win in the States this season after his close friend and Ryder Cup partner Ian Poulter's success at the WGC-Accenture Match Play and then Rory McIlroy's stunning Quail Hollow Championship victory.

Rose made his first birdie on the fifth and then had three in a row from the seventh to turn in 32. He was still behind at that point, but 21-year-old Fowler, also chasing his maiden win, bogeyed the tenth and then went in the water on the short 12th for a double bogey five.

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Rose took control with further birdies on the 14th and 16th, but Fowler put the pressure back on by picking up shots at the 14th and 15th. However, the youngster left a bunker shot in the sand on the short 16th, dropped another shot and could find no way back with Rose rock solid.

The former European Tour No 1's first PGA Tour event was, of course, the 1998 Open at Royal Birkdale when he finished a spectacular fourth as a 17-year-old amateur. This could have the spin-off effect of qualifying him for St Andrews next month off a current form money list running in America. But first comes the US Open and a 36-hole qualifier close to Muirfield Village today.

Rose, 66th in the world, will move just outside the top 30 and it lifts him from 27th to eighth on the European Ryder Cup world points list. The first four places in Colin Montgomerie's side will come from that list, with the next five automatic spots decided by European Tour earnings.

Rose goes just ahead of 2007 team-mate Graeme McDowell, who earlier in the day won the Wales Open. "I couldn't wish for a better place – it's an honour," Rose told tournament host Jack Nicklaus after holing the winning putt. "I've had a few close calls and sometimes you wonder why you can't get it done. But when you do it feels easy. It's nice to have the hard work pay off."