Justin Rose the last bastion of Europe's old guard as new wave sweeps through Ryder Cup team

(AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

By STEVE DOUGLAS

AP Sports Writer

GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy (AP) As the only 40-something playing at this Ryder Cup, Justin Rose has come a long way from being that 17-year-old amateur in a baggy red sweater who holed out for eagle to finish tied fourth in his first British Open in 1998.

With age comes experience and that’s what Rose is providing in the European team room, offering what he describes as an “open-door policy” for the four rookies as they attempt to glean what makes the Ryder Cup so special.

“If I just make them feel comfortable enough that they want to ask a question,” the 43-year-old Rose said Wednesday, “let’s hear it and I’ll do my best to give some type of perspective.”

The last two years of his Ryder Cup journey have given Rose plenty of that.

Missing the 2021 matches at Whistling Straits after failing to earn a captain’s pick was a big jolt to a player who had featured in every Ryder Cup since 2008, earning a 60.25 win percentage along the way.

It’s a proud record that’s among the very best of all European players down the years and the reason why Europe captain Luke Donald chose to bring him back onto the 2023 team as one of his six picks.

“Not making the last one is always that kick up the backside that you need and lights a fire,” Rose said.

“It’s an opportunity,” he added, “to look inward and go, ‘OK, well, clearly I wasn’t valued enough or I wasn’t playing well enough and I don’t like that feeling, so I need to do something about that.’”

Rose is seven years older than any other player at Marco Simone - Shane Lowry (Europe) and Brian Harman (U.S.) are both 36 - and he’s almost double the age of Nicolai Hojgaard, the youngest guy on the European team.

In that respect, Rose is the last bastion of Europe’s old guard that is quickly moving aside - or has been cast aside, in the case of the ineligible LIV Golf rebels - as a new wave of talent sweeps into the team, led by Hojgaard and Ludvig Aberg.

The absence of stalwarts like Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia because of their decision to join LIV has reduced the average age of Europe’s team from 34.5 in 2021 to 30 this year, but also threatens to rob the team of its winning culture.

Rose is sure new leaders will emerge.

“What would be great,” he said, “is if you can kind of slip through that period of transition unaffected, and you know, you start to look to the next generation obviously to come through and to start to kind of have that winning culture.

“That could happen as early as this year. You start to get the rookies off to a good start this year at home, and suddenly you start to blood some of the future with positive experiences. Yeah, the transition starts, or maybe the transition has started last time around at Whistling Straits, and now we’re coming through that already.”

Rose, a major champion and Olympic gold medalist, arrives in Rome for his sixth Ryder Cup with something to prove, given he is a captain’s pick for the first time.

“The job starts Friday,” he said. “Job’s not done by making the team.”

AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

Updated September 27, 2023