HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Two down, one to go. And for Justin Rose, it's the biggest one of all.
Rose heads into the British Open as probably the hottest player in golf after winning back-to-back titles for the first time in his career, at the Quicken Loans National at Congressional and the Scottish Open over the links at Royal Aberdeen.
Back at his career-high ranking of No. 3, he is playing as well as he ever has, and the experience of being a major champion — at the U.S. Open at Merion in 2013 — makes his case even more persuasive at Hoylake.
But he has failed to crack the top 10 at his home major since memorably finishing tied for fourth as a 17-year-old amateur in 1998, when he chipped in at the 18th at Birkdale. Rose missed the cut at three of the last four British Opens.
"Thousands of times I have won the Open Championship, in my mind," Rose said. "This is probably the one I've dreamed about the most."
For dreams to finally turn into a reality, Rose said he just has to stay in "the zone" and not get carried away with the expectations that predictably have been placed on him by a British public desperate for a triumph in an otherwise miserable sporting summer.
He doesn't think that will be a problem — and he puts that down to winning at Merion.
"If I had been coming off a couple of wins and not won a major championship, I would be thinking, 'Is this my opportunity to get it done?'" he said on Tuesday, appearing completely at home in his role as one of the big British Open favorites.
"It takes that little bit of pressure off me, the fact that it's been done. I have one under my belt. The monkey is off my back ... and I now have a model that works."
Putting problems were once Rose's weakness but if ever there was a demonstration to prove that is no longer an issue, it was on the front nine in the final round at the Scottish Open on Sunday.