Originally created 07/23/98

A real pro: Rose enjoys first pay day



HILVERSUM, Netherlands -- Justin Rose is starting to make money.

On his first day playing as a professional, the 17-year-old amateur sensation of the British Open won a pro-am tournament Wednesday. And now he has a check worth $1,233 to show for it.

Rose teamed with three local amateurs to win the event, leading to Thursday's start of the Dutch Open.

Virtually unknown a week ago, Rose became a national hero in Britain after he tied for fourth in the British Open at Royal Birkdale. He crowned his tournament with a show-stopping 45-yard chip-in on the 18th green.

Had he turned pro before the tournament he'd have earned $114,874 for his performance. Instead, he left with a silver medal as the top amateur.

"At Royal Birkdale I was surprisingly relaxed," Rose said Wednesday. "This week I guess I am stepping into the unknown a little bit so there are going to be a few nerves."

Rose clearly is intent on winning more than the Dutch Open in the coming decade.

"A couple of majors. ... and to play in the Ryder Cup," he said. "That would be, you know, unbelievable. That is a top priority definitely."

And his colleagues think he has the game to do it.

"He's a very complete player," Nick Price said after playing 14 holes with Rose. "He's a good driver, iron player. I didn't see any flaws ... and his confidence level is probably as high as those clouds up there,"

Phil Mickelson agreed.

"The guy has a lot of talent," said Mickelson, one of the favorites to take the Dutch Open. "I don't think it was a surprise to him or the players after watching him in the Walker Cup last year."

Rose won two of a possible four points as British and Irish players lost amateur golf's top team event to their American counterparts at Quaker Ridge last August.

Now his first goal is to gain a European Tour card without having to go to qualifying school. He is entitled to seven sponsor exemptions this season and must win about $80,000 to earn his card.

Rose, who started swinging a club at 11 months and had a 1 handicap by 14 years, left school last year to play full time. He had been considering turning pro for some time but wanted to end his amateur career in style.

"The way it turned out would have been the way I would have written it in a fairy tale," said Rose, flashing the same broad smile that was fixed to his face throughout the British Open.

Now it's down to the grind of the pro tour.

Playing for a winner's prize of nearly $220,000, Rose takes on a field featuring Mickelson, Price, and another rising English star, Lee Westwood.

Spain's Seve Ballesteros, Zimbabwe's Mark McNulty and Germany's Bernard Langer, all previous Dutch Open champs, also are in the field along with Germany's Sven Struver, who shot a final-round 66 to win this tournament last year.