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Last Updated: Friday, 18 July, 2003, 20:20 GMT 21:20 UK
Sandwich setback for young guns
By Matthew Slater
BBC Sport at the Open

Justin Rose
It was a disappointing week for Rose
If the 2003 Open was supposed to mark the graduation of four talented English golfers into fully-fledged international stars, then only one can claim to have scraped through his finals.

With so much expected from them, it was perhaps inevitable that Justin Rose, Paul Casey and Luke Donald would struggle to satisfy the host nation's desire for Open glory.

But few could have foreseen quite how dramatically they would struggle.

With the tournament at its halfway stage, only Ian Poulter, the oldest of the quartet at 27, will be back for the second half. This is a desperately disappointing return on so much promise.

Rose, 23 at the end of July, came to Sandwich as the world's 34th best player and many people's tip for victory.

He brought a temperament and game well-suited to the big occasion, as his recent fifth at the US Open would suggest, and a unique Open pedigree.

Paul Casey
After a poor opening round, Casey shot a 71 on Friday

For it was at Royal Birkdale in 1998 that Rose's talent first blossomed, when he holed his chip at the last to finish in a tie for fourth - a remarkable achievement for a 17-year-old amateur.

The rest of the Rose story is equally well-known. Two years of despair followed as he failed to cope with the demands of the pro game, before he finally started to realise his potential in 2001.

The following year saw him break through in a big way, as four wins worldwide catapulted him into golf's premier league. This year, and this week, was supposed to see him take the next step to the top of the table.

That he failed to do so is as forgivable as is it unremarkable - it is a very tough course, with a very strong field, and he will have plenty of chances in the future.

That he finished 17 over par with only one birdie in 36 holes is less forgivable and far more remarkable. But Casey and Donald were not much better.

Casey, 26 next week, came into the event with even greater momentum than Rose.

Two victories on the European Tour this season had seen Casey leapfrog Rose in the rankings to become England's number one at 28th in the world.

Ian Poulter
Poulter was the only one to make the cut

But the big-hitting Walker Cup stalwart carded a disastrous 14-over-par 85 on Thursday to leave him needing a miracle on Friday to make the weekend.

It didn't happen, although he can at least be proud of a second-round 71 that included three birdies and an eagle.

Donald's display was better, but only marginally. Playing in the company of Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia, the 25-year-old carded scores of 76 and 79 to be 13 over par, five shots outside the cut.

Relatively unknown in this country because of his decision to play on the highly competitive US tour, Donald has perhaps the most potential of all the 'Britpack' golfers.

With a sparkling amateur record - including better US collegiate stats than Woods - Donald already has one PGA Tour win to his name and is tipped to add many more.

It may have been unrealistic to expect one of these four to lift the Claret Jug so early in their careers, but no more unrealistic than expecting Tim Henman to win Wimbledon or England to win the Ashes.

And for all four - Poulter only made the cut on the number - to perform so poorly has left the bumper crowds at Sandwich without even the chance to cheer them on from a Rose Ridge, Casey Crag or Luke Lookout.

Poor show. The Royal St George's crowd loves a winner, but it loves an English winner best of all.



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