Ryder Cup: Justin Rose established as Europe’s lead character

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Rose has become world number one for the first time after finishing in second place at the BMW Championship in Philadelphia

By ascending to the top of the world rankings, Justin Rose has established himself as the lead character in Europe’s team-room for this month’s Ryder Cup.

Furthermore, he has added one of golf’s rarest and most meaningful achievements to a career resume that includes a US Open, nine PGA Tour wins among 22 professional victories and an Olympic gold medal.

The fact that he did not add to his tally of triumphs in the process of going to number one will hurt. Rose is a winner and would have wanted to do it in style, but he let in champion Keegan Bradley with bogeys on the 72nd and first play-off hole at the BMW Championship.

Twenty years on from embarking on professional life with 21 missed cuts, Rose has become only the 22nd man to reach number one since the rankings were first introduced in 1986.

He is a player whose dedication knows no bounds. Throughout his career he has worked to strengthen mind and body to acquire one of the most respected golf games in the business.

Under the tutelage of the bio-mechanically driven coach Sean Foley, Rose has developed a most consistent swing and an action that works despite continual concerns over the physical state of a problematic back.

He uses brainwave monitoring technology to find his optimal state of mind and nutritional apps govern dietary issues that, he is convinced, ward off the debilitating effects of hay-fever type allergies.

And through it all there is an inbred competitive drive that sets him apart. We saw it best in the way he made himself the last man standing at Merion in 2013 when he landed the US Open, his lone major title.

Since then there has been no sense of resting on his laurels. Rose embraced golf’s return to the Olympics in 2016 and was as proud as punch to hold off his Ryder Cup partner Henrik Stenson to win gold.

Since then his golf has been astonishingly consistent. In the past year Rose has won four titles and has been runner-up three times in his past five starts.

One of those second places came at The Open, a championship week that demonstrated to a tee the new world number one’s cussed competitive instincts.

Rose was being driven to distraction throughout his second round at Carnoustie. He could not buy a putt and was growing increasingly fractious.

Coming to the last needing a birdie to avoid missing the cut, he duly obliged. For someone who was seeing putt after putt miss its intended target, he was able to zone in on that closing hole.

That’s the stuff of a genuine champion and over the weekend he carded rounds of 64 and 69 to rise into a share of second place.

This year he has had seven top-six finishes and only one missed cut. Rose turns up week in, week out and delivers.

It is this consistency that has him at the top of the rankings ahead of Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, the reigning champion in two majors – the US Open and PGA Championship.

Some may say this is unjust and a player with multiple victories in the tournaments that matter most is more deserving of world number one status.

Rose will pay a key role for Thomas Bjorn’s Europe team in the upcoming Ryder Cup

But the rankings have proven themselves over the years and rarely, if ever, have they put the wrong man at the top of the tree.

Rose’s sustained excellence suggests they have once again identified the correct number one, albeit by the narrowest of margins. The top three are covered by .0544 of a ranking point.

It could be all change by the time the Tour Championship has been concluded on 23 September and the players head to France for the Ryder Cup at the end of the month. Regardless, Rose will be a key man in Thomas Bjorn’s team.

Europe’s skipper needs dependable figures around whom to build pairings and Rose will top the list in that regard. He will be playing in his fifth Ryder Cup and boasts an impressive record of 11 wins, six losses and two halves.

Expect him to renew his partnership with Stenson but also to help bring out the best from the five rookies in the European team.

How he assists players such as Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton on their debuts could significantly influence the home side’s quest to win back the trophy from the American holders.

Of course, if Rose still holds the number one spot by the time the teams arrive at Le Golf National, he will be wearing a metaphorical target on his back, one that the likes of Johnson and Koepka will relish having in their sights.

But from the time his career began to this crowning moment, golf’s new top dog has repeatedly shown that he is not one to shy away from such challenges. And that is why he is currently looking down on the rest.

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