x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Desert bloom could put Justin Rose into major contention

The challenge to Race to Dubai title aside, Rose has the potential to be the first Englishman to claim a major in more than 15 years.

Justin Rose is confident of becoming the first Englishman since 1996 to win a major.
Justin Rose is confident of becoming the first Englishman since 1996 to win a major.

The man currently most likely to break England's drought in major championships is not Luke Donald, last season's best golfer on both sides of the Atlantic.

Nor is it Lee Westwood, the world No 4 and the recent runner-up at both the US Masters and the British Open.

Ian Poulter, Europe's latest Ryder Cup luminary, may have just completed a standout season in the majors - tied-third in the US PGA Championship the highlight - but it is another of his compatriots who shows the strongest signs of future fortune: Justin Rose.

Rose, 32, himself a maverick of Medinah, sits second in the Race to Dubai going into today's BMW Masters.

Should he triumph in Shanghai, or excel between now and next month's DP World Tour Championship, the climax to the European Tour, then a second Order of Merit crown could be his.

While Rose will have designs on lifting the trophy at the Earth Course, thoughts may quickly wander to next year's yield.

A green jacket, or a claret jug, is within range - the major championships no Englishman has won since Nick Faldo triumphed at the Masters in 1996.

Upon landing his first World Golf Championship title, back in March at Doral, the world No 5 noted a major represents the natural progression.

"After this win I suppose I'm now in the mix of players to talk about," Rose said. "The only thing that is the next level up is a major. "I've learned enough along the way that I have a realistic shot every time I tee it up in a major."

Since then, Rose has figured prominently on leaderboards at the WGC-Bridgestone, the PGA Championship and the Tour Championship - the final FedEx Cup event - before vanquishing Phil Mickelson at the Ryder Cup and conquering a world-class field last week at the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final.

His game, honed alongside Tiger Woods in Sean Foley's stable, is starting to peak, and Rose has proved already that he has the temperament to match.

How it will survive as a contender on a major Sunday remains to be seen, yet the Orlando resident would no doubt relish the opportunity to put that to the test. For now, Rory McIlroy appears large on the horizon as the European No 1 spot engages full attention.

Then ending England's 16-year wait for a major title becomes the main focus. Rose, finally in full bloom, is ready to be that man.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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