Justin Rose hopes past performances at Masters bode well for him
Perhaps time is fading away on Justin Rose’s quest to win his first Masters. The recent contender is making his 14th appearance at Augusta National Golf Club and only two champions - Mark O’ Meara (1998) and Sergio Garcia (2017) - needed more starts to secure their first green jacket.
On the other hand, Rose appears built to last among the dogwoods and azaleas that color the year’s first major championship. The 38-year-old Englishman has a 71.73 stroke average in 52 rounds, he’s never missed the cut and finished outside the top 15 in the Masters just once in the last eight years.
Photos: Masters Monday Practice Round
Rose has felt comfortable at the Masters from the outset.
“Yeah, just one of those places, that I guess you just — I get insight — guys talk about a course that fits their eye and I think this is one for me that I like all the shots out there,” he said.
Included in the remarkable run are two runner-up finishes: 2015 when Jordan Spieth rode a hot putter to the title and 2017 when Garcia nipped Rose in an epic back-and-forth battle.
That loss hurt Rose, but it doesn’t haunt him.
“I think I took comfort in the fact that you can't get through a career without something like that happening. So just deal with it and move on,” Rose said. “You're not the first person, you won't be the last, so just kind of get on with it.”
The sting from the close call only returned when someone mentioned it. But his good friend Henrik Stenson helped Rose put that behind him. Stenson pointed out how Rose benefited from good breaks during their fierce battle in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, where Rose won the gold medal.
“It just taught me, when you win a tournament … you need that little bit of luck on your side, and I think I had it,” he said. “Henrik pointing that out to me made it easier to accept and swallow, that I've had my moments where I've ridden my luck and this was one that maybe just kind of went against me. But you've got to keep putting yourself in those positions.”
Since winning the 2013 U.S. Open, Rose has seven top-10s in majors and a FedEx Cup title to accompany his gold medal. He almost snuck in the back door and stole The Open Championship at Carnoustie last summer, shooting 64-69 on the weekend to tie for second.
Rose is 12th in the FedEx Cup standings with a victory at Torrey Pines in January. After a poor opening round at the Players Championship in mid-March, he bounced back to tie for eighth.
“I’ve had enough good golf to give me confidence and I've had enough poor golf to keep me working hard, which is sometimes a good place to be,” Rose said. “If the game comes sometimes too easily and results are just happening, you can sometimes — you don't get lazy by any means, but you don't quite know where the next level for improvement is. You're not forced to look inward.”
Boosting his comfort on the course this week is the return of longtime caddie Mark Fulcher, who missed the last three months while recovering from heart surgery. The duo has learned the intricate nuance of Augusta National together and Rose was frank about the value of having his trusty looper alongside on the weekend.
“Where Fooch is going to earn his money and earn his position on the bag and earn his importance on the team is on Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “Basically when emotions start to get more intense and there's more variability from that point of view, that's when I'm going to rely on him more and more … that's when I think someone who knows you so well and we have so many positive experiences out there under pressure that we can draw on together; that's where Fooch is going to come into his own for me.”