Red-hot last year, defending AT&T champ Rose looks to end barren spell

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After a stellar 2010 season, Justin Rose enters his AT&T National title defense coming off three missed cuts in a row and no top-10 finishes since March.
By
PA Sport

Series: PGA Tour

Three missed cuts in a row and no top-10 finishes since March provide a stark contrast to a year ago for Justin Rose as he defends his AT&T National title this week.

Rose was the talk of golf this time last season. His first PGA Tour victory had come in the Memorial, he led by three with a round to go in his next start and then he picked up another $1 million check at Aronimink.

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"It's pretty much the polar opposite to last year, really," said the 30-year-old, who after this week heads back to Europe for the Scottish Open and Brtish Open.

"The last few weeks I've run into a bit of trouble, but I guess in some ways I come in with sort of no expectation, which can be a good thing,” he explained. "I feel like I'm working on a few areas of my game right now. The game is not bad and the results could sort of pop out at any point I feel."

Rose is hoping the course set-up will help him to start climbing the world rankings again after falling to 31st.

"I think you have to drive the ball well -- there is a bit of rough out there,” he said. "All year we've played a lot of courses where the rough has been down, whereas I think this really brings ball-striking into the equation as much as anywhere.

"You've got to hit the fairways and you've got to be very patient and got to have great strategy,” he added. “It's a golf course where it's not going to necessarily be 20 under par. I like that.

"I'm third in greens in regulation this year, which is a statistic I haven't particularly dominated in the past,” he said. “If you do hit a poor shot here, it takes a great recovery shot to make par, so I think it tests all aspects of your game."

Rose was as impressed as anyone by how Rory McIlroy bounced back from his Masters collapse to win the U.S. Open by eight shots two weeks ago.

"What a great start for a 22-year-old to notch a major under his belt that early," said Rose, who did, of course, finish fourth in the British Open as a 17-year-old amateur back in 1998 and has still to improve on that in a major.

"I don't feel sorry for Rory having to bear that burden of expectation now. He's earned it, he deserves it, he's a great player,” he added. "The way he played at the U.S. Open captured a lot of people's imagination that he is good enough to cruise to victory.

"I think he plays golf with a great attitude,” he said. “I think the way he handled Augusta was probably as impressive as his win to be honest, the way he bounced back from that."