Losing a play-off to Sergio Garcia left him “licking his wounds” for weeks, but Justin Rose believes he will not be scarred by the experience as he targets Masters glory this week.
Rose held a one-shot lead with two holes to play 12 months ago, but dropped a shot on the 17th and also bogeyed the first play-off hole as Garcia claimed a first major title at the 74th attempt.
It meant Rose had to settle for a second runners-up finish in three years and resulted in an early trip to Augusta National to exorcise any demons before the year’s first major gets under way on Thursday.
“I think after losing in the play-off it was just important just to come and walk the grounds,” Rose said. “Clearly you’re going to through memories and shots you hit and shots that didn’t come off, so I just wanted to have that walk before tournament week.
“The two weeks after last year I didn’t really want to play golf. I kind of was licking my wounds a little bit, but I really have positive and fond memories of last year. I hit a lot of great shots. I don’t feel like it was a tournament that anybody lost, really. It was great to be a part of a Sunday exciting back nine with birdies and eagles.”
Rose has actually made the most birdies and eagles of any player at Augusta since 2012, has the best greens in regulation percentage in the last five years and the best score in relation to par in the Masters since 2011.
But he is well aware that the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson have all won this season, while 2015 champion Jordan Spieth was third in Houston last week and a certain Tiger Woods has finished 12th, second and fifth in his last three starts.
“I’m kind of 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 this week,” the 2013 US Open champion added. “But, again, 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. But I’m coming in playing as good as I’ve ever played, so I’m excited about that. I feel like I put a lot of work into being ready for this tournament. I don’t just come here by accident and play well. There’s a month or two of preparation to do it.
“And for me I always said I don’t have to win it this year, I don’t have to win it next year, but I would love to win it. If I keep doing that, then chances are going to continue to present themselves.
“My caddie asked me a great question last year during the practice round walking down 10. He said, if you had the opportunity to wipe the slate clean with all you achieved in the game and have another crack at it, would you do it?
“There were a few years I potentially underachieved. But given how talented players are who never breakthrough in majors, I’m not sure I would just throw that all away and say, right, okay, I’m going to go again.
“I’ve won at the highest level, I don’t have anything to prove to anybody. But I think how I’m going to be remembered in the game is really about what happens from here onwards. If I go on to achieve some other really big championships, major championships, then my career certainly becomes more a special career than a great career.”