All was right in Justin Rose’s world when he left San Diego with the championship hardware in his hands after winning the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in January.
He was No. 1 in the world, had just posted his eighth top-10 in his last 10 worldwide starts and was looking forward to a month off to rest, relax and rejuvenate for the rest of the year. His confidence was at its apex as he began to count down the days to the Masters.
But Rose ran into a few roadblocks en route to Magnolia Lane. His inner GPS needed retooling a week ahead of the first round of the first major championship of the year and nothing Rose did got him back on course for a course like Augusta National.
The result was his first missed cut in the Masters in 14 starts.
“I got my preparation a little bit wrong,” said Rose, who stands at No. 2 in the world after Dustin Johnson reclaimed the top spot. “I took a month off in February and that was designed to really freshen me up going into Augusta and for the rest of the season. I came out of that month not playing as well as I would have hoped, and the Florida swing became a bit of a struggle and a bit of a grind.”
He finished in a tie for 63rd in his first start after the break, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, then tied for eighth in The Players Championship. Two week later, in his last start ahead of the Masters, he tied for ninth in the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.
Then the man who’s twice been runner-up in his run for the green jacket shot 75-73 and headed home.
“I was always just sort of fighting my game a little bit, and then it’s like you’re sort of cramming for an exam,” Rose said. “I started to practice harder than I would have liked in the days leading up to Augusta.”
He also threw in what turned out to be a curveball as he practiced three days at Sage Valley, a top-notch facility near Augusta National. Then he played nine holes at Augusta National on Sunday, 18 on Tuesday and then came Thursday.
“It all felt like it was a really long run‑up. I think by Tuesday I felt pretty good with my game and then by Thursday I tanked a little bit,” Rose said. “I think the flow of the run‑up this year, the preparation didn’t really click. And because of that, you know, ultimately, I kind of burned out a little bit too quick.”
Thus, Rose is changing things up again heading into the PGA Championship in two weeks. He’ll start by playing this week’s Wells Fargo Championship. Then he’ll begin his prep for the 101st PGA Championship early next week. It will include a trip to Bethpage Black.
But he’ll cut off his prep and head home to the Bahamas, where he’ll rest and spend time with his family before heading back to the States for the second major championship of the year.
“You’re always adapting and always learning and trying not to make the same mistakes,” Rose said. “I’ll get my prep work in and go back home and digest, I think, what I’ve learned or what I think the strategy’s going to be and come back and be fresh mentally. I feel like if I’m in the environment for too long, if I’m in the environment of being around the major for 10 days, it’s a long time to keep it together or to stay sharp.”