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Bunker mentality the key as Rose aims for third straight win

By Tony Jimenez

HOYLAKE England (Reuters) - World number three Justin Rose is planning to adopt a bunker mentality in this week's British Open as he goes in search of a rare third victory in successive tournaments.

The 33-year-old Englishman followed up his triumph at the Quicken Loans National in Maryland last month by capturing the Scottish Open title at Royal Aberdeen on Sunday.

Rose believes the key to making it three wins in a row at Hoylake will be to keep away from the sand traps.

"It's important in links golf to keep the ball out of the bunkers," he told reporters on Tuesday. "They are true penalties.

"Typically if you take on the first set of bunkers you're not always rewarded because very often they are so well designed that there's the next set of bunkers at 280, 290, 300 yards so your decision is to take all of the bunkers out normally."

Ryder Cup team mate Rory McIlroy said earlier in the day that the par-fives would be the most important holes at Royal Liverpool this week and Rose agreed.

"Some of the par-fives are going to play relatively easily," said the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion. "If you don't make four you're actually dropping a shot.

"It's a very fair golf course. The fairways are relatively flat, the greens are relatively flat yet the trouble is there - the rough is relatively thick but nothing is extreme.

"It offers shot-making, something for everybody."

Rose, who has only once finished in the top-10 in 12 previous appearances at the British Open, said his victory at Merion taught him the virtues of staying patient in a major championship.

"The important thing for me this week is not to let expectation or anything like that get in my way," he explained.

"It's basically about building a game plan and going out and committing to it, just let the rounds and the week develop.

"That's what happened at Merion. I sort of grew into the week and felt like I got better every day and last week I did the same," said Rose.

"In the past I was maybe less experienced and maybe not quite as good. Now I just build my strategy around what I'm good at and I don't force things as much as I used to."

It is not often that professionals win back-to-back tournaments, let alone three in a row, but Rose feels his chances of landing the coveted Claret Jug have increased as a result of his victory at Aberdeen.

"I don't feel it any less realistic because I won last week," he said. "I think the odds go more in my favor just through confidence."

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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