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Page last updated at 14:12 GMT, Wednesday, 23 May 2007 15:12 UK

Rose ready for 'major' challenge

By Rob Hodgetts at Wentworth

Justin Rose
The resurgent Rose has been in great form for almost a year
England's Justin Rose fought his way into the eye of the storm at the Masters but found only peace and tranquility.

The 26-year-old stood toe-to-toe with the world's best late on the Sunday afternoon at Augusta and came within a whisker of ending Europe's seven-year major drought.

His charge, made all the harder after two early double-bogeys, showed a stubbornness and resilience that makes him a leading contender for this week's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

And his ability to thrive in the pressure-cooker environment catapulted him to the top of the list for Europe's next most likely major winner.

"What I learned was how comfortable I felt in that situation," said Rose, who surged to within one shot of the lead after 16 holes before finishing as top European in a tie for fifth.


"You can tell yourself that when the time comes you'll feel great but until you are actually in the moment there with a chance to win on Sunday, you don't quite know how you're going to react.

"I actually surprised myself at how much I was able to enjoy it and how calm and confident I felt and how much belief I had.

"That was the biggest thing I learnt. Believing that I can really do this."

Rose's Masters challenge died after a third double-bogey on 17, but after a five-week lay-off he begins the next stage in his blossoming career at the European Tour's flagship event this week, on a West Course that Wentworth resident Ernie Els has set up to replicate US Open conditions.

The year's second major takes place in three weeks' time at Oakmont, the venue where South Africa's Els won the first of his three majors in 1994.

And the world number five believes that this year's event at Wentworth, which he has reworked for a second straight year, will give a good foundation for European players heading to Oakmont.

Ernie Els
Els has has added six new placed bunkers at Wentworth
"This course, with the rough, the bunkering, the way the sloping greens are going to play, is not too far off any kind of US Open," said Els.

"My plan was to get the field here in May and go to the US Open from here and not feel like, 'Where the hell did this golf course come from'."

Els has added six new strategically placed bunkers and performed a couple of nips and tucks. "It's up to date now. Like everything, the equipment has changed and golf courses have to change," he said.

"We didn't want to make a mockery of it but we didn't have time to finish it last year. This is how we wanted it to be.

"You've got to be more accurate off the tee and shape your shots into the greens.

"The guys who play well here will be much better equipped and will have a much better idea of what to do when they go to Oakmont. The update makes Wentworth closer to a major championship challenge than it's ever been."

This is music to the ears of Rose, the world number 28, who is making a rare return to Europe from his US base in Orlando, Florida.

I need to focus on the serious business and go out and do my job

Ernie Els
"My game is suited pretty decently to a US Open, I'm hitting the ball a lot straighter now," said Rose, who tied fifth in the 2003 US Open at Olympia Fields.

"But the challenge week is going to be about my concentration and focus.

"There's a lot going on, faces I haven't seen for a long time, lots of distractions. But it's like drawing a line in the sand.

"I now need to focus on the serious business and go out and do my job. The better I can do that, the better my chance of winning."

With seven of the world's top 15 competing at Wentworth this week, including Els who has won six World Match Play titles over the West Course, Rose will need to be on his mettle.

But a fourth European Tour win for Rose could bring the continent one step closer to ending the seven-year major drought.

Television coverage of the BMW PGA Championship starts on Thursday on BBCi from 1100-1300 and then BBC Two from 1330-1800. There will also be updates from the course on BBC Radio Five Live and full coverage on this site and Ceefax.

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