Justin Rose was only 17 years old when he represented Great Britain and Ireland in the 1997 Walker Cup Match at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y. A year later, everyone knew of the young amateur from England when he holed out a shot for birdie at the 72nd hole of the British Open at Royal Birkdale to earn a share of fourth. In June, Rose claimed his first major title at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club, about two hours to the southwest from where he went 2-2 in the 1997 Walker Cup.
You were the youngest Walker Cup player ever at the time. What did it mean to you to compete in the event?
At the time, whether you’re an American or a player from the UK (United Kingdom) or Ireland, it’s the biggest event you can compete in. As an amateur, that’s what you strive for, to be honest. It was a big deal to me because it was my first trip to America, a great experience, and you’re playing in front of big crowds. That’s an experience that is pretty invaluable to a young player and it was a very positive experience as well.
What stood out from that week? You played pretty well?
I remember being paired against Joel Kribel the first day in singles, and he was one of the hot American amateurs at the time. I managed to win that match (1 up), and that was a pretty big deal for a 17-year-old kid playing away from home, kind of an underdog, really, and the fact that I was able to take him down, that gave me a lot of confidence.
The USA dominated that match. Was it still fun?
Well, we’re playing for pride and you still want to do the best you can. America won 18-6, but I managed to win two of my four matches, and I was the leading point scorer for our side, so those are the kind of positives that I took away from the week. It was a very big deal for sure. And it was a great experience from the standpoint of a natural progression eventually to the Ryder Cup. You have those same feelings and perhaps you draw a bit from what you learned at the Walker Cup.