By Andrew Both
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (Reuters) – Justin Rose will become world number one if he wins the U.S. Open on Sunday while victory for Rickie Fowler would shed the American’s label as the best player without a major title.
It has been five years since Rose, then 32, broke though on the biggest stage to win the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion.
World number seven Fowler, however, remains 0-for-33 in the four championships that largely define a player’s career, a series of close calls only adding to his frustration and the latest coming at the Masters in April where he finished runner-up to Patrick Reed.
“We’ll get it done, and once we get our first it’s definitely not going to be the last,” Fowler, 29, said with conviction at the end of a news conference on the eve of the tournament on Wednesday.
But Fowler must brace for more disappointment, Rose said, because nobody closes the deal every time.
“He will let one or two go in the future,” the Briton said.
“You can’t skip through your career without one or two slipping through the net. It’s a by-product of being on the leaderboard that these things happen.
“With regards to Rickie, he’s going to be on the leaderboard for a long, long time, and I’m sure things are going to line up for him more than once.”
But victory at Shinnecock Hills this week could go to Rose, the second favorite behind Dustin Johnson.
Nobody is in better form than the Englishman who won the Fort Worth Invitational three weeks ago.
His long game as stellar as ever, Rose says winning often boils down to how well he putts.
“The consistency has been great all year,” the world number three said. “I’ve always been a pretty good ball-striker. I’m now taking more of those opportunities with the putter.
“I couldn’t think of a better scenario than to win a major, and to become world number one.”
The same applies to Fowler, at least the winning part.
He could hardly go into a tournament in a better frame of mind, after getting engaged to girlfriend Allison Stokke last week.
“I just didn’t want to carry the ring around any longer,” joked Fowler, who hopes to replace it with a big silver trophy on Sunday.
(Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Ed Osmond)