AUGUSTA, UNITED STATES: Two-time runner-up Justin Rose has set aside the disappointment of last year’s Masters playoff loss to Sergio Garcia and set his sights upon finally winning a green jacket.
The 37-year-old Englishman, who has never missed a cut in 12 starts at Augusta National, made his peace with the course in a practice round last month after finishing third at Bay Hill.
“After losing in the playoff, it was just important to come and walk the grounds,” Rose said. “Clearly you’re going to go through memories and shots you hit and shots that didn’t come off, et cetera, et cetera.
“So I just wanted to have that walk before tournament week.”
Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, said he has never watched the video of his dramatic back-nine Sunday duel with Garcia, who captured his first major title by overcoming the British star.
“I haven’t watched. There’s no need really,” Rose said. “I did everything well last year. Just to win a championship you need to make a key putt at the right time, and that’s what didn’t happen last year.”
Rio Olympic champion Rose, who also shared second in 2015 behind Jordan Spieth, has five top-10 Masters finishes. Since 2012 he has the most birdies and eagles of any Masters player.
“It starts by just driving up Magnolia Lane and having good energy and feeling good about the place,” Rose said. “That sort of love affair started my very first Masters in 2003. I had positive experiences here so it has become a happy hunting ground.”
Rose has also dedicated himself to learning where to hit shots and where not to hit them along the famed layout.
“If you let your guard down for a second because you think you’re hitting a safe shot here, you end up making more of a mistake than trying to hit an aggressive shot,” Rose said.
Rose won the WGC HSBC Champions in Shanghai last year and had two top-five PGA finishes last month.
“I’ve been very happy with the way my game has been trending,” Rose said. “I feel certainly tournament sharp and I’ve had some good results.”
Rose also faces a world-class field where a dozen top players are on strong form, including 14-time major winner Tiger Woods after years of back trouble.
“I’m coming in with high confidence but also low expectation, in the sense that I can’t control so many variables that are going to be out there,” Rose said.
“But my skill set should produce a chance to win if all goes well. I need to execute really well this week to have a chance.”
Special or great career?
Rose says that while he has nothing he feels he needs to prove, he senses his legacy depends on his results in major events over the next few years.
“I’ve won at the highest level. I don’t have anything to prove to anybody,” Rose said. “But I think how I’m going to be remembered in the game is really what happens from here onwards.
“If I go on to achieve some other major championships from this point on, then my career becomes more a ‘special’ career than a great career.”
Even so, Rose looks back to 2017 with no regrets.
“I don’t feel bad about it whatsoever,” Rose said. “But still clearly, whenever you lose a playoff in a major, it’s one of those moments you look back on and think what might have been.”