It's tough, but someone had to say it: Who's Justin Rose?
That was the reaction of one journalist at a press conference yesterday in Taipei to announce the star player at this year's Acer Taiwan Open. Last year's US$1.5m BMW Asian Open in November at the Ta Shee Golf and Country Club, near Taipei, is this year's US$300,000 Acer Open. England's No. 1, Justin Rose, 23, may be one of the rising stars of the international golf circuit, but he does not have the clout of last year's players, who included legend Gary Player, Richard Daly and many European Ryder Cup stars, as well as the best Asian PGA tour local players.
"The tournament is different in terms of scale compared with previous years, but it is still the country's major golf event,"
said Taiwan Open spokeswoman Marian Ma (馬薏明).
"It's a totally different thing from the point of money. The Taiwan Open focuses on the Asian PGA and we have one star player every year, which is a regular eye-catching thing," she said.
"It's not so glamorous as in previous years. But we will have the top 65 Taiwanese players and the top 60 from the Asian APGA are eligible to attend. There will be a few surprises left as well as the sponsors will invite another six players for a total field of 132."
Justin Rose was the youngest player ever on the European PGA tour and made his name in 1997 as a Walker Cup team member, after a promising amateur career.
Though he has not won a major tournament, his game has improved in the last two years to the point where he is beginning to make an impression on the leaderboard at the big events.
He won the Dunhill Championship and Nashua Masters last year and came fifth, three shots ahead of Tiger Woods, at the this year's US Open. He finished ninth on the 2002 Order of Merit and is ranked 42 in the world. Rose said in a videotaped message at the press conference that he was looking forward to his visit.
"This is my first time in Taiwan. I hope to try some Taiwanese food and look around Formosa island," he said. "I look forward to meeting you in the 2003 Acer Taiwan Open."
He added that he hoped to record a hole-in-one and win the prize of a mansion.