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Page last updated at 14:13 GMT, Wednesday, 14 July 2010 15:13 UK

The Open 2010: Justin Rose backs home stars against US

The Open Championship, St Andrews, 15-18 July
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Rose backs home golfers at St Andrews

Justin Rose believes the current crop of British and Irish golfers is so good they could compete in the Ryder Cup without their fellow Europeans.

There are eight British and Irish players in the world's top 20, with six from America, and Rose said they would give the United States a big challenge.

Speaking at St Andrews ahead of the Open, the world number 16 said: "Right now it would be a close-run thing."

Rose's claims will be tested when he tees off with Tiger Woods on Thursday.

Continental players were drafted in to join the British and Irish golfers on the Ryder Cup team in 1979, following a miserable run of defeats stretching back to 1957.

But the home-grown stars are in the ascendancy, with Rose (twice), Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter all winning on the US tour this year, while Graeme McDowell captured the US Open last month.

"We've always had one or two great, great players and we now have a great depth to the team," stated Rose after Wednesday's practice round on the Old Course.

To get the full complement of 12 players for a GB & Ireland v America Ryder Cup challenge, US captain Corey Pavin would only need to go down to 34th-ranked Nick Watney to complete his line-up, while Colin Montgomerie's last man would be Brian Davis, ranked 75th.

But Rose insisted: "I think for the first time it would probably be a close-run thing, for sure.

"I fully expect, whether you take it a little bit wider into European, one of us to be in contention on Sunday [at the Open] - just [because of the] pure numbers."

Steve Bamford

Triple Open champion Nick Faldo certainly thinks so.

The 52-year-old, who won the second of this three titles at St Andrews, said it wouldn't surprise him if there was a British winner this week, with Rose his pick of the bunch.

"I think everybody is learning and everybody is really keen. I think something is going to happen this week," he said.

"I would have thought it's a probable now (and) Rosey might be a very obvious first choice.

"He's played really well the last month, he seems to have found something in the game, in his mind and everything. Obviously Lee (Westwood) is very solid, very solid tee to green, which St Andrews is really all about, tee to green."

Rose has been on a hot streak of form in America, winning the Memorial Tournament and the AT&T, while squandering a three-shot lead at the Travelers Championship in between, but he stressed that would count for nothing at St Andrews.

"Thursday is about a new challenge, a new week, a new golf course. But should the week progress nicely and I find myself in contention, then that's when I might be able to draw upon the last few weeks," he said.

The 29-year-old claimed his recent victories were not inspired by the success of his fellow British and Irish players.

"Not worrying about them winning helped me to go on and win," he said.

"Not putting pressure on myself to be one of the gang, to be measured the same way or 'if they can do it I can do it'.

"For me, a big part was taking all that pressure away, getting rid of that. For a while I was feeling like I was being left out. I knew I was as good, but not doing it.

"It was a fact of not letting their wins inspire me, if you know what I mean."

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see also
Rose partners Woods at St Andrews
12 Jul 10 |  Golf
Rose wins again on American soil
05 Jul 10 |  Golf
Rose falters as Watson wins in US
27 Jun 10 |  Golf
Rose roars back to win Memorial
06 Jun 10 |  Golf
Caddie criticises Woods's putting
14 Jul 10 |  Golf
Monty waits to name Cup deputies
01 Jul 10 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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