By Tony Jimenez
ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Reuters) - Justin Rose will be chasing a childhood dream with a prize even more precious than a Mars bar or train set when he begins his pursuit of the British Open on Thursday.
The world number eight is the highest-ranked Englishman in the St Andrews field and his country's most likely candidate to end a long, barren run without an Open winner, extending back to Nick Faldo's Muirfield triumph in 1992.
"It would mean the world," the 34-year-old told reporters on Tuesday. "Growing up, this is the one tournament I dreamed of winning.
"My dad used to encourage me to get out there and play and set hill targets and goals to keep me interested -- whether it be a Mars bar on the way home or a train set at the end of the
year -- and just kept it fun for me."
As enjoyable as that was, Rose already had far greater prizes in his sights.
"I used to pose my follow-through in the garden in the reflection of the window and pretend it was the front cover of a
magazine," the 2013 U.S. Open champion said. "I kind of had that in my mind always about where I wanted to go with it; Ryder Cups and major championships."
Asked if he would treat himself to a Mars bar if he lifts the coveted Claret Jug on Sunday, Rose laughed: "Yeah, absolutely. That'll taste especially sweet, I'm sure."
Though Rose burst onto the scene in sensational fashion when he tied for fourth place as an amateur in 1998, he has since failed to record a top 10 finish in golf's oldest Major.
Rose, who has been drawn to play alongside Faldo and last week's Scottish Open winner Rickie Fowler in Thursday's opening round, was at a loss to explain that record. "I haven't put my finger on it," he said. "I can play links golf, I know that for sure.
"My record may not suggest that, but there have been a couple where I felt like I had a great chance to win if a few things had gone my way or if I just got a bit of momentum.
"My Open record isn't great and I'm looking at righting that in the next five or six years."
(Editing by David Goodman)