Nine-time Major winner Gary Player insists he wants Justin Rose to triumph at this week’s US Open because of the sporting way he handled defeat to Sergio Garcia at the Masters in April.
Reigning Olympic champion Rose, who became the first Englishman to win the US Open for 43 years when he claimed victory at Merion in 2013, held a two-shot lead on the final day at Augusta National but slipped to a play-off defeat as Garcia sealed his maiden Major.
Rose won plaudits for the way he acted and embraced Garcia at the moment of his victory, and Player believes such dignity warrants success at the 117th US Open, which starts on Thursday in Erin Hills.
“I would like to see Justin Rose win because of the way he behaved when he lost the Masters,” said Player, 81. “He had a wonderful chance to win but he let it slip.
“But he behaved so well and was a great example to young people all over the world. I always pull for the gentleman, and I would like to see him being rewarded for his great behaviour.”
Rose, however, has failed to fire since pushing Garcia close for the Green Jacket. The 36-year-old missed the cut at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, while he tied 65th at the Players Championship after firing a horror final round of 80.
While two months has passed since Garcia birdied 14 and then eagled 15 to force a play-off at the Masters before dispatching his opponent, Rose continues to harbour regret.
“I have tried in the aftermath of the Masters to feel kind of fine about what happened,” he said. “I also think you’d be naïve to think you can go throughout your whole career and not have one that gets away.”