Since he was ten-years-old, Justin Rose has been coming to the PGA Championship at Wentworth. Tomorrow, he will have a chance to fulfil a lifetime ambition and finally win the tournament.
The Hampshire ace will tee off in Sunday's last pairing, alongside defending champion Luke Donald, after carding a masterful 69 in brutally tough conditions today to move into second place on nine-under.
Rose, who grew up in Fleet and was a member at North Hants Golf Club, was one of only three players to break the 70 mark, alongside Donald and Ian Poulter, who both matched his score.
With fairways and greens having firmed under the relentless beat of the sun, and the wind having stiffened up, the West Course has begun to resemble an instrument of golfing torture.
Overnight leader James Morrison began the day on 12-under-par and held a four shot lead, but by the close of play he had been brought to his knees, signing for an 81 that has taken him well out of contention.
Even Ernie Els, who should have been all smiles after a round of 70 moved him into a tie for fourth, was not shy in expressing his displeasure.
The architect of the course’s redesign launched into an expletive-laced rant against European Tour officials and the Wentworth green staff for not, in his opinion, applying enough water to compensate for the hardness of the surfaces.
“You have a damn 30mph easterly breeze blowing so put f****** water on the greens. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out,” vented the South African.
Rose, who confessed that there had been some “borderline” holes, was more measured in his assessment.
“It was one of those situations where I didn’t realise quite how good the round was until about the 16th or 17th hole, when I caught a glimpse of a scoreboard,” he said.
“I saw Luke and Peter Lawrie (who is third on -7) were going well, but the pack had really dropped back, so that’s when I realised the course was taking its toll.”
Rose added: “This was more of a Sunday feel out there, it wasn’t your typical moving day. Well, it was really, it was your moving backwards day.
“Obviously, on the back of four or five incredibly warm sunny days, and the wind, the course has baked out very, very fast.
“The fairways were playing fast and there were a lot of pins you couldn’t get to, but I sort of relished that challenge. But it’s not the typical Wentworth that everybody expects. It took all of your experience, skill and patience.”
Rose, for who the PGA Championship effectively doubles as his home event, has spoken all week about his burning desire to win the tournament.
The closest he has ever come in his career was in 2007, when he lost in a playoff to Anders Hansen.
But despite going into tomorrow’s final round in second place, Rose knows he faces an almighty challenge to hunt down an imperious looking Donald.
The world number two – and number one in waiting – produced a sublime round this afternoon to take his overall score to 11-under, giving him a two-shot advantage over Rose.
But the 31-year-old believes he can overcome the deficit.
“I’m confident,” he said. “Every day’s a new day. Tomorrow will be a whole new set of challenges.
“Obviously, I’ll just have to take them as they come, so I don’t really have any expectation going into tomorrow.
“I’m just really excited to have the opportunity to go out there and have a fun day.
“I’d love to win it. I’ve been saying all week what a great tournament this is and how much I would dearly love to win, so that will be on my mind, there’s no doubt.
“But what I have learned is to get the job done you can’t get your mind to the finish line. We’re three-quarters of the way through and the first tee shot tomorrow is as far as you need to try and let yourself get.”