(Reuters) - Justin Rose has produced sparkling form over the past three months after a slow start to the PGA Tour season and says he is “excited” about his title defense at this week’s Quicken Loans National in Gainesville, Virginia.
World number seven Rose clinched last year’s tournament after a playoff at Congressional Country Club in Maryland, and knows he faces a very different test at a new venue over the next four days at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.
“So excited to be here,” the 34-year-old Englishman told reporters on Wednesday before heading off to play the course in the pro-am competition.
”Defending doesn’t mean much when you play a new golf course. You can take some confidence from the fact you played well this time of year and hopefully the bio-rhythms line up more than the golf course.
“So, it’s a new test ... I don’t certainly put any pressure on myself this week.”
Rose brings excellent form to the PGA Tour event hosted by Tiger Woods, having posted four top-10s in 13 starts this season, including a victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in April and a playoff loss at the Memorial Tournament in June.
“It was a slow start to the year and I found some form,” said the 2013 U.S. Open champion, who tied for sixth at the British Open in his most recent start.
“I’ve won (on the PGA Tour) every year (since 2010) and at the beginning of the year that looked like a long way off. It was nice to find that form just after spring. There’s a big run of golf coming up now and I‘m excited.”
Rose is the highest-ranked player this week in a field that includes two other players in the world’s top 15 -- Americans Rickie Fowler (eighth) and Jimmy Walker (14th).
Walker, a five-times winner on the PGA Tour, liked what he saw when he played the course for the first time six weeks ago and immediately decided to commit to the event.
”I enjoy playing golf courses I like to play, that suit your golf game,“ said the 36-year-old Texan. ”It’s not that I don’t play well at courses that I don’t like, but ... I came here, met some great members and the head pro was great.
“I had a good time, it was a good experience and I definitely wanted to come back.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue