Best Shot: Justin Rose

 

Justin Peter Rose had strolled around the Royal Birkdale links all afternoon as if he really belonged in such illustrious company. Then, from the rough on the 18th hole, he played his last shot as an amateur and the synchronised wave with a thumbs-up salute that had been his stock response to applause for the previous four hours became a passionate punch into the air.

"I couldn't believe it," he later commented of the 45 yards pitch shot he holed out to cap off a memorable British Open. "It was a tough shot out of the rough over a bunker and all I was trying to do was get it close. A perfect end to a perfect championship."

The shot which gave him fourth place in the major signalled the end of his amateur days. "Nice way to finish, wasn't it?" he said. "I felt like a winner today, walking up that final fairway. I got the feel of what it is probably like to win a tournament."

Rose's feat was acknowledged by Tiger Woods. "He's held himself together well. Hopefully, he'll continue to play well and make the right decisions. I know my game wasn't ready for it at 17. Good luck to him," said Woods. Ironically, Rose's ability to survive was put in some doubt when he failed to make the cut in seven subsequent appearances as a professional. Now he has to seek to win his Tour card for 1999 at the final qualifying school in Spain next month.