Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rose Is Smiling Again after Years of Pain

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rose Is Smiling Again after Years of Pain

Article excerpt

Byline: KATE BATTERSBY

JUSTIN ROSE has come of age. For so long he was that 17-year-old kid who pitched in at the final hole to finish fourth in the 1998 Open at Birkdale.

Then he was the 18-year-old kid who everybody said turned professional too soon. Then he was the 19-year-old kid who had to wait almost a year to make his first cut, after 22 successive misses. At 20, with the nightmares behind him, he was grafting away on his game and now, at 21, it has borne fruit.

This year he has earned not just his maiden tournament victory but another two for good measure, the latest being Sunday's triumph in The Crowns event in Japan.

Best of all by far, his father Ken, who thrust a golf club into Rose's infant hands when he was a one-year-old, is in remission from the leukaemia which threatened his life.

"He was in a very bad way," said Rose. "The chemotherapy has been very aggressive so he's been very sick and lost his hair. The problem was his body was riddled with leukaemia when the treatment started. He had a blood test in January 1999 but although he already had leukaemia then it wasn't diagnosed for another eight months.

"It was a huge shock and very frightening. My dad has always seemed like the strongest person in the world. Being away was tough but he reassured me that he wanted me to be away giving everything to my golf, rather than be sitting with him in hospital.

"I ring him every day. Now he's improving rapidly and his goal is to come to The Belfry this week to watch me in the Benson & Hedges International Open.

"Since he's been ill it's opened my eyes to how many people are affected by cancer. He's incredibly strong and brave. He's been in remission before and then had a relapse. His dedication to fighting this thing puts me to shame.

I'm just happy that I can make him proud by winning."

When you meet Rose you are reassured that his father would be justly proud of him if he never picked up a club again. Rose is a great chap, friendly and articulate, and enjoys thinking about what he is being asked rather than trotting out formulaic replies.

He has made a point of keeping in touch with the school friends he had at 16. He goes to the pub with them and talks about cars and girls.

It is impossible not to be glad for him in his recent good fortune, both private and professional. It has been a long haul on both counts.

"I seriously hope my troubles are behind me," he said. "I hope the endless hours of hard work will see me through. I've learned you can't take anything for granted with golf.

"I did exactly that for a long time because things came so easily to me. As an amateur, I was the best young player around, winning tournaments easily and then came the Open. You think to yourself, 'This isn't so hard. …

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