Houston (AFP) – Twelve months after losing a playoff at the Masters and Justin Rose will return to Augusta National treating the Georgia course as “a new piece of work.”
Since the bittersweet moment his good friend Sergio Garcia birdied the first extra hole to win the green jacket, Rose has endeared himself to the sport in the manner the 37-year-old Englishman has conducted himself in losing what would have been a second major triumph.
Rose accepted the defeat with dignity and decorum and often in the intervening 51 weeks has sung the praise of Garcia.
And Rose, who tees off Thursday at the US PGA Houston Open, says he will return next week to Augusta National knowing the golf course holds no fears, no favors and no regrets.
“My outlook is I would like just to win a Masters in my career, whether it’s next year, whether it happens five years down the road,” Rose said.
“I would like to win more majors than one given the true choice, but just to win Augusta once would be amazing. I feel like I know the golf course. I’ve played well. I know my chances are going to come again, so I’m not putting too much emphasis.
“My other thought is there’s really not one blade of grass that is there that was there last year. So pretty much for me it’s a fresh body of work and that’s kind of how I’m going into it.”
Fifth-ranked Rose, who sat out last week’s WGC Match-Play after finishing third at Bay Hill, arrived into Houston in much the same form as a year ago.
He has had four top-10s since the start of 2018, exactly the same number as in the same period a year ago.
But when asked to compare his game to a year ago Rose said: “It’s a lot better.”
“I was trending nicely, had a nice west coast last year, felt good going into Augusta, felt like I was going through the gears slowly this time last year and obviously began to peak at Augusta, which was lovely,” Rose said.
“But I’m coming into the tournament generally more confident, I think playing better, definitely putting the ball better than I was last year. But we’ll see what that means. It doesn’t mean much right now.”
– ‘Fresh faces’ in Rose’s bag –
And to further prepare himself for his 13th Masters start, Rose has some “fresh faces” in his bag via a number of new wedges.
“The wedges are just pretty much fresh faces as I’ve had one wedge for all of this season so far,” he said.
“Basically, I’m after as much spin as you can get on the ball chipping more than the full shots, but chipping I think that really helps when the greens get quick.
“This week will be a great place to test them out because the way they mow the fairways the same as Augusta. They mow the grain into you so you’ll get good feedback on the bounce or what have you so this is a great place to introduce some fresh wedges.”