Rose ready to bloom under Augusta sun

Justin Rose is used to handling the pressure. The English golfer excelled in the blistering Rio heat to claim Olympic gold by holding off Henrik Stenson in a thrilling duel.

And now the former US Open champion is preparing for the Masters with the unwanted tag of being world number one.

In most weeks, being the best player in the world is an honour but, when it comes to the majors, it does not hold quite the same sway.

Not since Rory McIlroy at the 2014 PGA Championship has the sport’s top dog gone on to win one of its four biggest tournaments. And, like a hot potato, it has swapped hands time and again in the last 12 months.

Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson have also enjoyed stints at the top but not added to their major tally. However, Rose, who is back on top this week, is confident of breaking that run this week.

"I don't think I've ever stopped telling myself how you get to No 1 and that's by moving forward and continuing to improve and get good results," he said.

“DJ [Dustin Johnson] has been the No1 in the last year-and-a-half predominately so I think the weeks I am No1, it’s really cool.

“I feel like I haven’t had my run yet where I’ve separated myself as the No1 player in the world. That’s a goal of mine, still.

“I feel like I’ve had a decent year so far. I’ve had enough good golf to give me confidence and I’ve had enough poor golf to keep me working hard, which is sometimes a good place to be.

"I have won as world No 1, which is something that was important me. I was able to do that in San Diego this year, but clearly to win a major as No 1 would be even more fantastic.

“So you know, I use it as maybe a little inspiration, certainly not as an expectation, I don't think.”

Rose is partnered with Thomas and five-time major winner Phil Mickelson for the first two rounds, both of whom also have an eye on the coveted Green Jacket.

Rose already knows what it takes to win a major, having claimed the US Open in 2013. But he insists he wants to at least four more before calling it quits, with the Masters this week the first of four majors in as many months.

He added: “I’ve seen some guys go through a career and not be able to get that elusive first major and no doubt it’s a hole in any career if you don’t get it done. but certainly I’d love to use the word ‘multiple’.”

Rose is not the only Team GB athlete in action this week, with Danny Willett also teeing it up.

Willett won the Masters in 2016, just four months before the Olympics, and has been paired with American Brandt Snedeker and Japan’s Takumi Kanaya.

Sportsbeat 2019