Former US Open champion Rose content to fly under Masters radar in bid for Green Jacket

 
Ross McLean
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Rose finished last year's Masters 14 under par (Source: Getty)

Britain's Justin Rose is content to begin the Masters incognito as he bids to be become the first European player to win a Green Jacket at Augusta and win the US Open.

Much talk leading into the first Major of the year has focused on the big three – defending champion Jordan Spieth, world No1 and tournament favourite Jason Day and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy – which has left Rose in the shadows.

“That’s fine with me,” he said. “I haven’t really had any fireworks yet this year, to sort of come in here with people having me at the front of their mind.

“I feel like all of my backroom work has all been fantastic and my preparation has been coming along nicely. I’m under the radar, but certainly feeling good with my game.”

A final score of 14 under par was only good enough for Rose to finish joint second with America’s Phil Mickelson at Augusta 12 months ago, four shots adrift of a rampant Spieth.

“Essentially I was beaten by an all-time great performance so I take a lot of confidence from that; many others years, that level of performance is good enough to win,” added Rose.

“If you get beaten by a better guy on the week, you tip your cap. But I know that what I was able to do last year tells me I’ve got what it takes to win the tournament going forward.”

Rose hit a combined 34 under par during Majors in 2015 only to finish empty-handed, while the mystique of the Masters is hard to better for the 35-year-old Englishman.

“The Masters is a tournament as young kid I watched probably more than any of the others,” said Rose. “The fact it came on late at night and you were able bribe your parents to stay up was probably part of the attraction. It’s always had something special.

“To back up a US Open win with a Masters would be just incredible.”

Two-time Masters winner Tom Watson, meanwhile, has tipped world No3 McIlroy to complete a career grand slam in Georgia on Sunday, insisting the 26-year-old has the skills to conquer what he believes will be tougher course conditions this week.

“He’s the guy. He’s my pick this week,” said Watson. “Rory, he can emasculate a golf course, he flat out can. He hits the ball high and so far.”