Justin Rose has been backed to continue his rich vein of form and follow in the footsteps of Phil Mickelson – by the man himself.
The Golf At Goodwood ambassador goes into this week’s Open Championship at Hoylake, which starts tomorrow, on the back of a flawless final round 65 at Royal Aberdeen to secure the Scottish Open.
A year ago, Mickelson lifted the Scottish Open the week before he got his hands on the Claret Jug at Muirfield.
And now the five-time major winner has proved it can be done to win those consecutive tournaments, he believes Rose – who is the bookmakers’ favourite – has the attributes to do it.
Mickelson said: ‘Prior to last year, I think everybody would have ruled him out for winning the week before.
‘But now that it’s been done and somebody has won the week before and followed it with an Open Championship, I think it is an advantage.
‘It’s an advantage to acclimatise yourself to links golf, to seeing the ball bounce, and long lag putts and playing in crosswinds.
‘All those things I think give the players a distinct advantage.
‘And the fact Justin’s playing well – he’s going to be in contention.
‘I thought winning the Scottish Open was instrumental in propelling me to the Open.’
In reality, the odds are probably against Rose, who launched himself to prominence as a 17-year-old amateur at the 1998 Open, as he goes for an unprecedented third straight victory after success at Congressional on the US PGA Tour a fortnight ago.
But his confidence is sky high, even though he admits he has cranked up the pressure on himself as he goes for a second major title.
Speaking after his Scottish Open win, Rose said: ‘I thought I would try and do a Phil this year and put it on my schedule. So far so good.
‘I’ve won two in a row now so I’ve put the pressure on myself. There’s no-one to blame but me.
‘It’s uncharted territory for me, I’ve never won two in a row before, never mind three.
‘It’s unbelievable to be back in the winners’ circle so quickly but right now I am feeling great.
‘I don’t feel the two wins have taken a lot out of me. I feel that I’ve taken it in my stride.’
Since his fourth place in 1998, the former Hampshire star has failed to make the top 10 again in 11 attempts.
‘No, my recent Open record is not good,’ said Rose.
‘I do take confidence from Turnberry in 2009, though. Even though the record book won’t suggest it, I was right in the hunt there.
‘I played beautiful golf that week, good enough to win and I know that.
‘There have been a few occasions where I have had good runs and a few occasions where I have been on the bad side of the draw.
‘I am trying not to pay too much attention to my Open record.
‘But I have played great links golf in my career at different times, so I just have to put it all together this week.
‘I’ve tried to see it as my home major before.
‘But I am not paying attention to that now. A major is a major.’
Rose is among the late starters at 2.27pm tomorrow, in a group with Adam Scott and Jason Dufner.
The returning Tiger Woods (9.04am) and Rory McIlroy (9.26am) are among the earlier groups on the course, while Mickelson (2.05pm) is alongside Ernie Els and Bubba Watson.