(Reuters) - A year after losing a playoff to Sergio Garcia at the Masters, Justin Rose declared himself ready to finally to claim the coveted green jacket as he prepared for a final tune-up at the Houston Open.
The Englishman is one of several big guns using this week’s PGA Tour tournament to prepare for Augusta, joining the likes of Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler in the field at the Golf Club of Houston.
Rose embraced his status as one of the favorites for the first major of the year, making no effort to downplay his chances.
“Game-wise I’m where I want to be,” he told reporters in Texas on Wednesday.
“I guess it’s getting comfortable with the feeling of knowing that I’m going in there (to the Masters) as one of the favorites and it’s my time really to do it.
“Last year I enjoyed the (Houston) tournament and it obviously turned into a good run into Augusta for me.
“This is not about next week, but clearly when you’re playing so close to a major that is always in the back of your mind.”
Rose has been one of the hottest player in the world for the last few months, winning three times late last year, including a World Golf Championships (WGC) event in Shanghai.
The world number five has also has contended in his two most recent starts on the PGA Tour in Florida, and skipped last week’s WGC Match Play in Austin to play instead in Houston.
“I’ve had a very simple train of thought the last few months,” he said.
“I’m not coming in here trying to find my game or look for anything new.”
While Rose is firing on all cylinders, three-times major winner Spieth is trying to diagnose his faults after a couple of ordinary performances.
He thinks he needs at least one hot round in Houston to provide a boost heading to Augusta.
“I want to shoot a low round, something lower than five under par, where I get out there, get into the flow of the round, where I’m not living and dying on shots,” Spieth said.
“I’ll know if I shot a low round in my mind whether the score is 65 or 68. I need a round that feels like that 65 that I can draw a lot off.”
Mickelson, meanwhile, has long played the week before every major, and has no doubt that for him at least it is the best way to prepare.
“It’s important for me because heading into a major I want to be sharp mentally,” he said.
“I don’t want to have a 10-11 day lag in between events and playing competitive golf in conditions as close to Augusta as possible is a very helpful thing in getting ready.”
Fowler thinks likewise.
“There’s a small gap between teeing it up in competition,” he said.
“I feel like there’s less first-tee jitters (at the Masters). If anybody tells you they don’t feel first-tee jitters, that’s a lie.
“You just feel more comfortable when it comes to that Thursday tee time.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Nick Mulvenney