Rose ready to prove his major credentials

Justin Rose
Justin Rose
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Scott Gregory. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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Justin Rose will spearhead the British challenge when the US Masters kicks off today.

The Golf at Goodwood ambassador is among a clutch of domestic players who are certainly talented enough to win but have yet to register their first major victory.

Aside from Rose, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter also have that question mark beside their golfing careers as they battle to lift one of the big four titles.

Frankly, their heroic efforts in the Ryder Cup – arguably with more pressure attached to those events – and victories in other big tournaments still pale into insignificance until a player has proved himself capable of winning one of the big ones.

And while Rose – the world number three and highest-ranked player never to win a major – has performed well on previous visits to Augusta, he has yet to finish the job.

But at the age of 32, he now believes he is in the prime of his career and has the game to challenge, if he finds himself in contention once again.

Rose said: ‘I’ve always scripted it that between 30 and 40 was going to be my prime – the time to put into practice all the things I’d learned.

‘Often I’ve had to learn the hard way, so if I can put into place all those years of experience, if you like, hopefully it will end up being a great career.

‘I’ve certainly had some great rounds of golf at Augusta and led on the first couple of days before.

‘I had a chance in 2007 – I think I was one back with two to play on eventual winner Zach Johnson.

‘I feel it’s a course where I’ve played some good rounds of golf and when you’ve done that you have some confidence you can do it again.

‘If I put myself in a situation where I have a chance to win – it’s never easy but I feel like I have the tools at my disposal now to enjoy the occasion, for it not to be overwhelming at least.

‘I don’t think that necessarily makes it any easier but I know I can do it.

‘I would say that’s come about in the last three years.

‘From 2010 to this point I would say I’ve emerged from what was a rocky professional career – up and down.

‘I always had good years and bad years but I feel recently I’ve got into a nice run of form. I feel like it’s more sustainable.’

Rose could benefit from flying under the radar this week with a resurgent Tiger Woods back at number one in the world rankings and a short-priced favourite to win.

An inconsistent Rory McIlroy will also be under scrutiny, which could divert much of the limelight from the other leading contenders.

But the last Brit to earn a green jacket was Nick Faldo way back in 1996 – an unfathomable 17-year stretch that surely has to come to an end at some point.

Whether Westwood, Donald or Poulter can challenge defending champion Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson and the other fancied Americans of Brandt Snedeker, Keegan Bradley or Webb Simpson, remains to be seen.

But to golfing fans around the world, the Augusta showpiece is a welcome sight that the new season is upon us.