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The Telegraph

Justin Rose interview: ‘Golf’s distance obsession will shorten careers’

As that fabled 17-year-old amateur who finished fourth at The Open, it is fair to say that Justin Rose knows a bit about youth golf and turning prodigy into glory and that is why he is the perfect champion to headline the Telegraph Junior Golf Championship. It is also why the sport and its wannabes should listen when he warns about the current obsession with power. Rose goes into next week’s Masters acutely aware that there is a burgeoning and bludgeoning revolution taking place as the young guns storm the elite. Bryson DeChambeau is at its vanguard and the reigning US Open will once again arrive in Georgia attempting to reduce Amen Corner to a few “Hail Marys!”. The bombs of DeChambeau and the likes of Matthew Wolff and Cameron Champ will no doubt explode into the headlines and catch the attention of juniors with their sights set on an eye-stretching future. But Rose would like to ask them a few questions. “Is it the short term or the long term that they are thinking of when it comes to their time as a professional?” he says. “Because with some of these swings nowadays, I’m not sure it can be both.” Those lucky ones who qualify for the finals of the Justin Rose Telegraph Junior Golf Championship at Walton Heath in October will get to meet the former world No 1 in person and benefit from his major-winning experience. “I will certainly advise caution if they are dead set on emulating what they see on TV, with these 200mph ball speeds and 400-yard drives” he says. “Because we are dealing with a lot of unknowns and we don’t know yet the toll this will take on the body. The more force we generate, the more force the body has to absorb. The torque is incredible. “If you look at my generation — say me, Adam Scott and Sergio [Garcia] — we are probably the first wave that’s grown up with the fitness and physio side and I kind of feel we’re in the sweet spot, the way we approached the game in the last 20 years, focusing on our mobility and flexibility and looking at the big picture. And I think our best golf could well be in front of us, as weird as that is to say with us all in our 40s. “Whereas I feel like that the generation coming up behind us is pushing the limit much harder than than we did from a physical point of view and even though science is improving and we are understanding more and more about the body, eventually those aggressive motions have to take their impact. “If it carries on like this and if everyone coming out here is looking for the power game, then maybe careers will get shorter and there won’t be players in their 40s still able to compete at the top of the sport. “Apart from the physical issues that might be suffered, I think that would be a huge shame. Watching Westy [Lee Westwood] and Bryson going at it at Bay Hill [last month] was great because you had a 48-year-old taking on a 27-year-old. That sort of battle between the generations is unique to golf. “Westy and what he has done in the last year and a half is a huge inspiration. It’s a great part of what I love about golf. Lee is playing with wisdom and experience and gratitude. They are powerful words, but there is something so noble about it. That longevity and endless hunger should be celebrated and it is. That is my concern with this drive for length — the professional male game could lose all that.”