The Kohler Kingdom – Wisconsin’s Wonder
Justin Rose will arrive at Augusta National as the world number one and transformed from simply dreaming of a green jacket to firmly believing he can win the Masters.
Rose has never missed the cut in 13 appearances in the year’s first major and finished second to Jordan Spieth in 2015 with the joint lowest score by a runner-up in tournament history.
The former US Open champion also lost a play-off to Sergio Garcia in 2017 and has finished no worse than 15th in the last five years, so it is no surprise the 38-year-old is among the favourites to win a second major title.
And Rose has revealed how a change of attitude has contributed to that impressively consistent form since making his debut at Augusta in 2003.
“I used to arrive at Augusta and just used to enjoy the experience,” said Rose, who will overtake Dustin Johnson at the top of the rankings despite both players sitting out the Valero Texas Open.
“I used to kind of feel like it was a treat to be there, it was a bit of a dream to be there. And I used to walk around just trying to take it all in. Arrive on site, walk out to the back of the clubhouse and just look, just look at what was there in front of me and just be, wow, I’m kind of living this dream that I had as a kid.
“It was the one tournament that makes you feel that way, or makes me feel that way. But then in recent years I’ve almost had a slightly surreal out-of-body experience, like turning up knowing that I’m one of the players to beat and to contend there.
“That’s been something I’ve had to get comfortable with, knowing that this tournament has always been kind of dreamlike, but now actually it’s more of a reality and putting myself in a position where I know that I need to put my mindset in the right place to go out and challenge to win it.”
Rose held a two-shot lead with six holes to play in 2017, but saw playing partner Garcia save par on the 13th after a penalty drop from the bushes and then birdie the 14th and make an eagle on the par-five 15th.
Birdies on the 15th and 16th gave Rose the lead once more but he bogeyed the 17th and after both players parred the last, Garcia claimed the title with a birdie on the first play-off hole after Rose could only make a bogey five.
“I’ve come second twice and I’ve played golf capable of winning the Masters on both of those occasions,” Rose added. “I wasn’t really back-dooring my way into a second place, I was right there playing great golf against guys playing their best golf.
“So I don’t feel like I need to do a lot different to have chances to win the Masters. Just keep doing what I’ve been doing there and hopefully the door will open. I’ll get my break at the right time on a Sunday afternoon and hit the right shot at the right time.
“All the other major championship venues rotate around, so winning the Masters gives you the opportunity for many years to walk down memory lane and be a significant part of that club.”