CURRENT US Open champion Justin Rose has Georgia on his mind as he makes his comeback from a two-month injury lay-off in this week’s Northern Trust Open.
The Hampshire star will make his 2014 debut at Riviera Country Club after being sidelined with a shoulder injury that forced him to miss the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the European Tour and Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour last month.
The 33-year-old admits he has rushed his recovery in order to get back on the course and begin his preparation for next week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and then the year’s first major, the US Masters at Augusta National in April.
“A lot of hard work went into me being here,” Rose said in a pre-tournament press conference.
“It was a race against time to really get back playing and get back strong.
“If I'm honest, I've only really been hitting balls, drivers, for about a week, 10 days now. So it really has been down to the wire.
“My immediate focus is just continuing to improve as a golfer and really have the discipline every week to go out and execute my skill set, which I believe is growing and getting stronger every week.
“That’s how I'm going to play my best golf.
“That’s how I'm going to contend in majors. Certainly I want to be 100 per cent come April.”
Rose believes he irritated his shoulder by throwing a ball 60 or 70 yards to his caddie during The Barclays last August – an event where he finished second – and struggled with the injury at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in November, where he was unable to prevent Henrik Stenson from winning the tournament and with it the Race to Dubai title.
“I played pretty much from October last year with it not perfect,” he added. “I assumed a little bit of rest over Christmas would heal it, but it didn't really and that's when I knew I needed to put a little bit of extra time into it, but nothing serious, nothing torn, no surgery required, nothing like that.
“I’m feeling good.
“Like I said, a lot of hard work went into me being here.
“I figured that I wanted to get out and play, and if I wanted to play well in the near future, I thought it was important for me to get out and play some competitive golf.
“My game’s felt really good at home.
“I’m swinging it really nicely and everything technically looks really good. I had an opportunity to spend a lot of time on my short game, but when you get a scorecard in your hand everything is a little different. So I wanted to get my season under way.”