Justin Rose’s success in the US Open can act as an inspiration to the next generation of Hampshire golfers – according to his former manager.
The 32-year-old claimed his first major championship at Merion on Sunday with a two-stroke victory as he held his nerve over a treacherous last few holes while his nearest rivals faltered.
But Rose has not forgotten his roots after starting his golfing career in the amateur ranks and playing for Hampshire under-18s as a fresh-faced 13-year-old.
And the former Hampshire junior manager Tommy Flinn believes the county golf scene can take great pride in their former charge’s success.
Flinn said: ‘I was manager for the Hampshire under-18s and Justin was playing for me from about the age of 13.
‘It’s nice to be associated with the early part of his career but there are a lot of people who have done a lot more.
‘He was a terrific golfer and, even at that age, he was seen as one of those guys who would go on to better things.
‘He was very dedicated, he worked hard on his swing and he practiced hard.
‘But he carried himself in a professional and adult way and that was one of his strengths.
‘He was never in trouble and he was a model junior.
‘That’s why he shone. The way he conducted himself at a young age stood out.
‘To me, it was never in question that he would make it.
‘Everyone who has been involved with Hampshire Golf over the years or had anything to do with his development would have puffed their chest out that little bit more after he won the US Open.
‘We had a very, very small part to play many years ago.
‘But when young players see what he has achieved, they can’t help but be inspired.
‘It goes to show what can be done with talent, hard work, commitment and dedication.’
After winning many of the top junior events in the county, Rose went on to catapult himself into golfing stardom with his famous tied fourth place at The Open in 1998 – holing his pitch shot on the 18th as a 17-year-old amateur.
But despite the riches and his place in the elite of world golf, Rose still took time out last year to send a good-luck message to the Hampshire team ahead of their crucial clash with Kent.
And with his associations with Golf at Goodwood – where he recently became an ambassador and led a coaching clinic for youngsters – Rose is clearly someone who wants to give something back to the game at grass-roots level.
Flinn said ‘He would always give you 100 per cent. He led from the front and the rest of the team would look up to him.
‘He had a very good golfing brain at a young age.
‘He was just always very focused on what he was trying to do.
‘His ambition was always to become a professional golfer.
‘In all the years I have been involved with junior golf, it is the guys who have put in the effort and commitment who have gone on to make it.
‘Justin was definitely one of those.’