Augusta, United States - Justin Rose will start his ninth campaign at Augusta National on Thursday with newfound confidence in his abilities to compete in the majors having won the US Open last year.
The 33-year-old Englishman's emotional triumph in Philadelphia last June was the culmination, so far, of a roller-coaster of a career that started in 1997 when, as a 17-year-old amateur, he finished fourth in the British Open at Royal Birkdale.
And it immediately set him apart from other European contempories such as Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia who have all scaled the heights but to date have all failed to win a major title.
The pressure on them to finally succeed increases each time they tee off in one of golf's crown jewel events, but Rose knows that he no longer has that burden of expectation on his shoulders even though he would like to add to his tally.
“I think you do come in here looking at increasing your tally of major championships, not just searching for your first one, but to feel like you can go on in your career to win multiple major championships and knock off your next one that you haven't won,” he said.
“So you're in a sense trying to work your way through all of them. But at least knowing you've won a major championship and knowing that you've faced those emotions before and you've come through, it's a huge benefit turning up here this week.”
The year to date has been disappointing for Rose as he has struggled to shrug off the effects of a shoulder injury be believes he sustained while throwing his ball to his caddie during a tournament.
A top-5 finish at the WGC HSBC Champions event was followed by a run of poor finishes and a missed cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month in his final tournament before the Masters.
Still, he believes that two weeks of rest have cured the problem and that he will be fully fit to be in contention at Augusta National at the weekend.
“It was more of an overuse injury, tendonitis, a little bit that sort of flared up but no trauma in the area. So it's been a case of getting it settled down and, thank goodness, now feeling great and can carry on,” he said.
“I'm kind of off the back of two weeks off, which it's been I think a really productive two weeks for me. I feel I've got a lot of work done with my game and also my approach really for the rest of the season.”
Rose's win at Merion in June was an historic one in that he became the first Englishman to win the US Open since Tomy Jacklin in 1967.
And a win on Sunday would be an equally momentous occasion as no European has won the Masters since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999 and no Englishman has triumphed since Nick Faldo in 1996.
He believes in his chances, but also points out that several other European players are poised to strike.
“Clearly Rory (McIlroy) especially after having a good final round (at Houston) last week.
“He's had a lot of good success here or given himself a great chance one year (2011), anyway.
“Obviously, Lee (Westwood) is showing some signs of beginning to play well and Ian Poulter always plays well here at Augusta, he's always solid here this week, a lot of Top?10s, a lot of Top 15s, so if he gets it going, he could be one.
“That's more the British fellas, then Sergio (Garcia) is playing obviously great golf. Rory and Sergio are probably the two Europeans that will have the best chance along with myself.”