Mon, 06 Jul 2020

Belek - Justin Rose in this week's Turkish Open is trying to become only the fourth player after the late, great Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam and Sir Nick Faldo to win a European Tour event three years running following his victories here in 2018 and 2019.

The Johannesburg-born Englishman and former world No 1 is also looking ahead to 2020 which, he says, is going to be a "huge year" for him because not only, as usual, are four more Majors on the horizon, but there's the Ryder Cup, the FedEx Cup and - in his particular case - trying to win gold again at the Olympics in Japan following his victory in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Refreshingly, with all the money waiting to be earned by golf's elite, Rose is actually looking forward to the Games - where the participants don't get paid - more than anything else as he explained at the Royal Maxx Montgomerie course, the venue for the Turkish Open.

"Yes, I want to play as well as I can in 2020 and hopefully win tournaments and be fresh and ready for the Ryder Cup. But next year might be the year where you can't be all things to all people. You might just have to focus on prioritising your goals, and for me, probably the Olympics is certainly going to be a huge part of what I prioritise. The rest might just have to be a byproduct of that mind-set. I think to try and achieve everything on every tour next year could be a tricky proposition."

Of course good golf covers all bets, he said, but winning gold in Japan - and not earning a cent - is his priority. He has so much respect for the Olympics, having witnessed and watched some of the other sports in Rio, and experienced the emotional Opening Ceremony.

Next year's Open Championship is at Royal St George's and the Olympics soon afterwards. "Right now I'd encourage anybody who is playing in the Olympics to be in the Opening Ceremony. One of the absolute highlights for me in 2016 was walking out with Team GB. If you want to be part of that, you have to leave on the Thursday after The Open Championship. So you play The Open, have three days off and you leave for Tokyo."

He says he is so keen to go the Opening Ceremony because it is all about inspiration and representing one's country. "One reason why I won in Rio was because I got inspired at the ceremony and I got a feeling of what it was actually all about. If I had tried to make it just another golf tournament, who knows what would have happened.

"I feel like any time you wear the crest or the logo of your national team, it inspires you to be the best version of yourself. Being at the Opening Ceremony, I think was part of the reason why I had that energy to play some of my best golf."

It will be a congested 2020 Northern hemisphere summer. But, he says, he wouldn't miss the Olympics for the world.

Rose was asked if there was a proximity to any particular sports person or sport that gave him insight. "Yes, the gymnastics. My wife was a gymnast growing up. She was sports acrobatics rather than traditional gymnastics, but we went to watch the gymnastics in Rio and I could not believe the chaos that they perform in and around. It was like the noise, the announcements, the movement of other disciplines going on, trainers literally walking around the bars while someone is running at the vault. And this is four years of blood, sweat and tears, and they have to perform and execute their move with chaos and I thought, God bless golf. Like the marshal just takes one step in the wrong direction and there's drama.

"So what I learned there was because the crowd in Rio wasn't a golf crowd, 70, 80 percent of them weren't necessarily that familiar with golf. There was a lot of cameras.

"There was a lot of noise. There was a lot of movement. But I decided to ignore the distractions because of what I experienced with the gymnasts. Once I started, nothing was going to stop me and I was going to play through anything that happened.

"I learned something from another discipline as the rugby sevens lads kind of made me wish I was a team sport player because of the camaraderie in the gym. I could see how much they were getting out of themselves with a guy being slapped in the face while doing a bench press by his team-mate. Come on, one more, one more, one more, like the mentality of being pushed to do one more by your team-mates.

"Then the ladies badminton players, and watching how they were training, and you think badminton, it's shuttlecock and this, that and the other, but they were deadlifting. They were looking for that one percent. They were looking for any advantage. It was inspiring, really. That's why I love the Olympics."

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