Friday 20 April 2018

Rose endorses fun-loving McIlroy

Justin Rose revealed he relaxes by going spearfishing in the Bahamas
Justin Rose revealed he relaxes by going spearfishing in the Bahamas

Justin Rose has backed Rory McIlroy's decision to play football just days before the defence of his Open title - and revealed he relaxes by going spearfishing in the Bahamas.

McIlroy suffered a serious ankle injury during a kickabout with friends on Saturday and medical experts believe he could be out of action for several months if it is a "total rupture" of the anterior talofibular ligament, as described by the Northern Irishman himself.

The 26-year-old has pulled out of this week's Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and although he has refused to rule out defending his Open title at St Andrews next week, the odds appear stacked against the four-time major winner.

McIlroy's decision to play football in the middle of the season has been questioned in some quarters, but Rose - who will defend his own title at Gullane - was not about to criticise his Ryder Cup team-mate.

" I think Rory has to keep doing what he's been doing all his life," Rose said. "I know him pretty well and I think he's a guy who likes to live his life.

"He likes to have fun. He likes to get his mind away from golf. I think he's the kind of guy that, if he practised 24/7 and got too much in his own head, it's not going to help him.

"We obviously all love the way he plays and he plays really free, and that doesn't really go hand in hand with somebody who wraps himself up in practise all day and doesn't really do anything - or I guess enjoy himself.

"It's a tough question, middle of the season, before a major championship... hindsight is a wonderful thing.

"He probably wouldn't do it again and it's probably the last time he does play football in the middle of season. It's unfortunate for him obviously."

Asked what potentially dangerous activities he takes part in, world number seven Rose added: "I 'm not the biggest daredevil in the world.

"Anything involving water relaxes me, so maybe spearfishing - that's probably the most James Bond, daredevil thing I get up to.

"I guess living in the Bahamas now it's what the locals do and what some of my friends do. It's what I've been roped into doing. I'm not particularly comfortable in the water yet but I've had a couple cracks at it.

"Learning new things and pushing yourself to do different things is a great way to switch off and sort of free your mind from golf."

World number 17 Matt Kuchar also believes golfers cannot be expected to live in a bubble all year, knowing from personal experience how injuries can be suffered in any circumstances.

The 36-year-old missed last year's US PGA Championship at Valhalla - coincidentally won by McIlroy - after his back seized up when he was stuck in traffic after a shopping trip to buy a water slide for his children.

"I didn't even do anything," Kuchar said on Tuesday. "I just sat in a car for a long time and my back seized up and I wasn't able to play.

"It's never fun to miss any tournament and it would particularly be tough if he (McIlroy) had to miss the British Open. But I don't think you can stop living your life.

"You can't form a bubble around yourself. You can walk down to the coffee shop and twist an ankle on your way. You can't protect everything. And so I don't think you stop doing what you've always done to this point.

"So it's too bad, but I don't want to say he made a terrible decision in doing what he did. It's just bad luck and those things happen."

No player has successfully defended the Scottish Open title and Rose, who carded a flawless closing 65 to win at Royal Aberdeen last year, will only see the composite course at Gullane for the first time in Wednesday's pre-tournament pro-am.

"I'll rely a lot upon my caddie, who walked it a couple days ago and says he's got a good game plan in place," Rose added. "He said that the greens are incredibly good and it's quite narrow off the tee.

"Basically, the style of golf is going to be the same (as last year), be quite conservative off the tee. I think links golf, specifically, you want to try to miss the bunkers.

"The pot bunkers are so penal that staying out of those is first and foremost and good long-range putting and good touch around the greens and trying to eliminate the silly mistake.

"I think if you can do that, it should do your score well on links courses.

"When you come to a new golf course, I think that what happened last year is a little less relevant to being defending champion.

"I think for me, it's a whole new test, it's a whole new opportunity and that's the way I'm approaching it really."

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