The Englishman spoke about last year's tournament where he came agonisingly close to a first Green Jacket
Justin Rose: “I Did Everything Right Last Year”
The current world number five lost to Sergio Garcia in a playoff after missing a birdie putt on the final hole, and he’s come close numerous times in the past two.
Like in 2015 where he finished on a score of -14. A score that would have won all but three of the last 20 Masters tournaments (and tied Charl Schwartzel in 2011).
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The problem for Rose that year was Jordan Spieth, who set a record of -18. Although the Englishman, despite acknowledging he was some way back of Spieth, pinpointed a couple of crucial moments from that year.
“I think I watched 2015 a couple of times just because I really liked the way I was swinging the club.
“And that Sunday I was really ‑‑ I finished four back of Jordan. Obviously he had a record‑setting performance being 18‑under. My score of 14‑under was good enough to win many championships here in the past, so I take a lot of confidence from that.
“But there were a couple key moments in that round, too. I hit a great shot into 6 that kind of hit a foot short, rolled back down. So a birdie potentially turned into a bogey there and didn’t up‑and‑down it from the front right at No. 8.
“Just a couple really key momentum changes. But I felt like I was ‑‑ even though I finished four back, I was really close there to being able to put a bit more pressure on Jordan on that occasion.”
That was Rose’s first runner-up finish at Augusta, after previous top 8s and top 5s. He would come even closer two years later – last year when he finished 2nd alone to Sergio Garcia.
The problem that day – fate? It was two-time Masters champion Seve Ballesteros’ birthday and it was also his younger compatriot Sergio Garcia’s greatest chance to join Seve and Olazabal as Green Jacket winners.
Garcia was in the best place he’d ever been – engaged to his now-wife Angela Akins and feeling happy and confident, and Justin Rose acknowledges that there isn’t much more he could have done to edge past Garcia.
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“I think that I did pretty much ‑‑ it was just a putt or two, making a key putt or two down the stretch.
“I did everything right, did everything well last year. Just to win a championship you need to make a key putt at the right time, and that’s what didn’t happen last year.”
And Rose still rues the 13th hole where he hit a beautiful approach that went unrewarded and eventually halved the hole with Garcia who found trouble off the tee.
“I’m not sure I would have the shot back, because I loved the shot, but the result on 13. I hit such a good‑looking second shot.
“We were only an iron between 6‑iron and 7‑iron, and we went with the 6‑iron, and I hit a really great shot right on the line that I was looking for, and I was playing for that ridge right behind the hole and kind of felt like it would come back down to six or eight feet, and it just took one bounce, firm, up onto the top and trickled over the back where I kind of was able ‑‑ unable to get the ball up‑and‑down. I had a six, eight‑footer I think for birdie that I didn’t make.
“But that shot for me was ‑‑ especially with Sergio in a little bit of trouble was a potential ‑‑ kind of the first nail, anyway.”
Rose did concede, jokingly, that Garcia was lucky to find his ball on the 13th hole – where the Spaniard made a heroic par and less than a year later would name his new baby daughter after the hole, Azalea.
“I would have done it, too, probably (named his child after the 13th hole).
“I played there. He did well to find his ball in there let alone make par,” Rose joked.
“So, yeah, I think it’s a great name for obviously a wonderful memory for him.”
The Englishman is one of the favourites this week at Augusta as he looks to become just the third English winner at Augusta after Nick Faldo and Danny Willett.
You can’t help but feel that he’ll end his career with a Green Jacket, and that this year could be the one.
He gets his tournament underway at 7pm on Thursday in the final group alongside world number one Dustin Johnson and Rafa Cabrera Bello. See all the tee times here.
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