Palm Harbor, United States – Reigning US Open champion Justin Rose declared himself “95 percent there” for the $5.7 million (4.1m euros) US PGA Valspar Championship, hoping to find the missing bits before next month's Masters.
The 33-year-old Englishman, seeking his first success since last year's major breakthrough triumph at Merion, is the only top-10
player in the field at Innisbrook's Copperhead course.
Rose, ranked seventh, has been nagged by a shoulder injury aggravated by making a long toss of a golf ball to caddie Mark Fulcher last year at The Barclays.
“I'm doing pretty well, not 100 percent but I would say I'm at least 95 percent there physically for golf,” Rose said. “Golf swing-wise, I feel like my motor pattern is where I need it to be.
“I'm feeling strong again. My ball speed and club head speed is back to where it should be, so from that perspective I'm ready to play.”
Rose says tossing the ball to Fulcher was the push too far of a nagging injury that has roots more than a decade old.
“I've always had something in there,” Rose said. “But I definitely hurt it doing that.”
Rose has played only 10 rounds this season while working himself into top condition, including last week's share of 34th in the World Golf Championships event at Doral.
“I came out of Doral with a lot of confidence,” Rose said. “Not finishing 34th, but I had a run where I went from nine-over par to even par. I wasn't able to hold onto that, but I really felt like I got some good work done.”
After this week, Rose plans to play only one more event before next month's first major of the year at Augusta National, where he has never missed the cut and twice finished in the top 10.
“I just need confidence,” Rose said.
Rose has already learnt he needs to treat small injuries with greater care, lest they become bigger ones.
“I probably played too long with what was like a niggling injury,” Rose said. “A good learning lesson. I'm probably not as young as I used to be – a lot of miles on my vehicle.
“When you play too much through something like that, it's amazing how it can escalate. Yeah I probably did overdo it, but those are the lessons you learn.”
Rose will tee off from the first tee Thursday afternoon and the 10th tee Friday morning alongside two Americans, 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner and 2012 US PGA playoff champion Brandt Snedeker. – Sapa-AFP