The rankings may state that Justin Rose is the sixth best golfer in the world at the moment but it’s difficult to argue whether there is a better player on form in the last four months than the Englishman.
Since missing the cut at the PGA Championship in August, the 37-year-old has had ten consecutive top-10 finishes and sealed three victories, along with a runner-up finish in the BMW Championship.
It was undoubtedly the most successful run of his 20 year professional career and one that should certainly add confidence as he embarks on a new season, starting on Thursday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
“That was a really solid, consistent run of golf,” said Rose. “Then to throw three wins in there and have a couple of other chances where, as a player, you look back at tournaments you win but then tournaments you feel like you could have won, that was a really strong run of golf, and looking forward to just keeping that momentum going as soon as possible.”
His Olympic and US Open titles are an enduring mark of his quality as a player, but there were moments during the first half of last season, where Rose’s game looked to have faltered.
The Birkendale native and his swing coach Sean Foley spent countless hours over the summer together as they looked to rectify some minor putting issues that curtailed his game earlier in the season.
“I think often when you make subtle changes, there’s a bit of a lag effect. And I think after the PGA at Wentworth, that was really when I made a few subtle changes, and through the summer, they didn’t really pay off,” he said.
“I wasn’t able to win in the play-offs (on the PGA Tour) but I came close, finished second at the BMW Championship. But that set things up, and it was then really, really nice to get that sort of winning, get the monkey off my back there in China and keep it going for the remainder of the season. It was a lot of fun.”
After winning the Indonesian Open by eight shots in December – his third tournament victory in seven weeks – the 37-year-old set off to the Bahamas with his family for two weeks on the back of a gruelling season.
25 tournaments over an 11 month period would take a toll on anybody’s body – and coupled with his tremendous success – it was a well-deserved break for the most in-form player in the world.
“It was really important in order to protect and preserve my form, was to do nothing. I feel like – to basically reinvest in myself. I stayed in the gym all Christmas, kept the body moving didn’t really focus too much on the golf side of things,” he said.
“I think it’s really important to miss the game. I kind of like to have that itch to play again, then I know it’s time to go. So that’s normally my formula.
“I knew that I needed to take some time off, but I’m not taking a prolonged break just to keep the momentum up.”
With The Masters less than three months away, Rose is surely one of the names pursed on most people’s lips after his outstanding run of form.
After losing to Sergio Garcia in a play-off at Augusta last April, the Englishman – gracious in defeat – said he will one day walk out of the course in Georgia as a Masters champion one day.
But if Rose can continue playing to these elevated levels then there is no doubt that he will be up alongside the elite names come Sunday of the Masters.
“Your clubs do the talking at the end of the day, so you turn up on the week, the golf course doesn’t recognise who is No. 1 in the world. You’ve got to build a new body of work every single week. There’s no point in talking about it,” he said.
“It’s just a matter of trying to do it. Under the radar is good, and if I am No. 1 in the world going into majors, then that would be my same mind-set is the course won’t recognise that; the fact is it’s just every single week you’ve got to focus on your game and your process no matter what.”
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