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SANDWICH, England (Reuters) - Olympic champion Justin Rose made an error-free start to his 19th attempt to win the British Open as he posted a three-under 67 at a bright and breezy Royal St George's on Thursday.
Rose picked up three birdies and avoided any bogeys to position himself on the first page of the leaderboard -- three shots behind leader Louis Oosthuizen.
"I mean, playing 18 it wasn't lost on me that a bogey-free round is pretty good around Royal St George's," Rose, who was tied for second at Carnoustie in 2018, said.
"It's a gnarly golf course. It's playing well this year, it's playing fair, but there was definitely a nice breeze to challenge us all day long.
"If you did hit a loose ball off the tee or you mis-clubbed with an iron, you were going to put yourself under pressure, and I absorbed a lot of that sort of pressure today."
The 40-year-old matched the rounds of fellow Englishmen Danny Willett, Andy Sullivan and Jack Senior on three under with Paul Casey a further shot adrift.
No English player has won the Open since Nick Faldo in 1992 and Rose believes this year offers a real opportunity.
"Right now I think it's probably as strong a chance as we've had, maybe even ever," Rose said.
"The quality of golf that a lot of the guys are playing, Tommy (Fleetwood), Paul Casey, Poults, Matt Fitzpatrick, obviously myself, they've had an opportunity to win many majors with (Lee) Westy (Westwood), and Poulter have had a couple looks at the Masters. Listen, the lads can do it.
"We've all grown up playing lots of links golf to be honest, it should be a style of golf that we all relish."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)