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Rose still has to prove he is a cut above.

Is Justin Rose setting himself up for exactly the same fall as Gordon Sherry?

The young Englishman - prematurely described as Europe's answer to Tiger Woods by R&A secretary Michael Bonallack after the Open at Birkdale - seems to be piling unnecessary pressure on himself.

His recent remarks that he hopes to make the 1999 Ryder Cup side are just plain crazy, coming from a man who has missed seven cuts in a row since turning pro.

Rose must first try to win his European Tour card in Spain at the end of next month before he can start talking about playing in the biennial joust against the Americans.

His comments were all too reminiscent of Sherry's on the final day of the 1995 Open at St Andrews.

The big fellow, on the crest of a wave after being feted for the previous fortnight, said he hoped to come back to the Home of Golf in 2000 and win the Open.

At the time it was an honest, and even engaging, assessment by the Stirling University student - but how it has come back to haunt him.

The Kilmarnock player has, of course, had a wretched professional career.

He has been toiling on the satellite Challenge Tour, where he is currently outside the top 50, and, unlike Rose, must get through not one but two tough qualifying tests if he is to win his Euro card.

Rose and Sherry are managed by Edinburgh-based Carnegie International, but despite the similarities of their opening weeks as professionals, golf manager Mike Todd is still not seeing the warning lights.

"You can't compare Justin and Gordon," South African Todd told me. "They are two very different people.

"Justin is unfortunately having a bad run, but I don't agree he is putting more pressure on himself by talking about making the Ryder Cup team before he has won his tour card.

"His remarks should be seen in a positive way rather than in an arrogant way.

"He is very demanding on himself, and despite missing these seven cuts, is still mentally very strong.

"He is disappointed more than anything else that he hasn't taken advantage of a great opportunity to win his card without having to go to the qualifying school at San Roque next month."

Well, maybe, but I am beginning to have my doubts.

Like everybody else, I was enormously impressed with Rose at Royal Birkdale.

It wasn't just his play, phenomenal though that was in the desperate conditions, but his general demeanour and ability to cope with the pressure on and off the course.

Mind you, we were saying the same about Sherry in 1995.

As 35-year-old European Tour player Paul Eales points out: "Justin has the extra burden of media attention, which journeymen pros such as myself don't have.

"A year on, the Challenge Tour would not do him any harm."

That is precisely what Bob Torrance said of Sherry 18 months ago, although in terms of results it hasn't panned out that way.

It's hard to imagine anyone saying the same of Tiger Woods when he turned pro.

But then Tiger, who will be a huge attraction in the Dunhill Cup at St Andrews this week, posted two wins and a further three top-10 finishes in his first eight tournaments in 1996.

It might, of course, have been a similar story for Rose - but fate decided otherwise.

He won the Pounds 600 pro-am first prize in his first event, the TNT Dutch Open, but then missed the cut by a single stroke.

The same happened the following week. As top European seniors money-winner Tommy Horton, explains: "After that it gets harder each time."

Had Rose squeezed into the final two days in Holland, who knows what would have followed.

At this stage the general verdict is that Rose remains an exceptional talent, and one who will make his mark sooner rather than later.

But failure to win his card in Spain - and it is certainly no foregone conclusion - will require a radical re-assessment.

For all Mike Todd's confidence that Rose will still be in demand for sponsors' invites next season, the example of Gordon Sherry proves that fame is a fickle creature.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Campbell, Alan
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 6, 1998
Words:700
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