Masters 2018: Justin Rose 'positive' at Augusta following 2017 play-off loss

Justin Rose embraces Sergio Garcia after losing a play-off to the Spaniard at the 2017 Masters
Justin Rose lost to Sergio Garcia in a play-off to decide the 2017 Masters
2018 Masters
Venue: Augusta National Dates: 5-8 April
Coverage: Watch highlights of the first two days before live coverage of the weekend's action on BBC Two and up to four live streams online. Listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra. Read live text commentary, analysis and social media on the BBC Sport website and the sport app. Full details

Justin Rose says it took him a "month or so to find the motivation again" after losing a play-off to Sergio Garcia at last year's Masters.

But the Englishman has been walking the course at Augusta National to help put that defeat behind him.

"You're going through memories and shots you hit and shots that didn't come off so I just wanted to have that walk before the tournament," he said.

"It was important to come and walk the grounds," the 37-year-old added.

"I have positive and fond memories of last year. I hit a lot of great shots. I don't feel bad about it whatsoever but when you lose a play-off in a major you look back and think what might have been."

Rose has three top-eight finishes in his past five events but has also taken time away from golf to help him prepare for the first men's major of the year.

"I took a month off four or five weeks ago with the hopes of being fresh and ready for this, and I've played a nice run of golf since then so I feel tournament sharp," he said.

"I'm coming in high on confidence but low in expectation - there are so many variables I can't control. But I'm coming in as well as I've ever played.

"My skillset should produce a chance to win if all goes well."

However, Rose believes his experience of 12 Masters tournaments will also help him when play starts on Thursday.

"Over the years I've really dedicated myself to amassing knowledge of the golf course, keeping notes and carrying those notes forward year on year. Learning the pin placements is key around here," he said.

'Less golf' could help Watson land third Masters

Bubba Watson is presented with the Green jJcket at Augusta in 2014
Bubba Watson has won the Masters and the coveted Green Jacket twice

American Bubba Watson hopes playing less golf will help him become a three-time winner at Augusta.

The 39-year-old, a winner in 2012 and 2014, says he is looking to save energy by playing fewer holes before Thursday's opening round.

"I've played Augusta enough times now, I can sit back and only play nine holes a day," he said.

"That's the difference in the strategy and that's what I did different from the two times that I won here."

Watson heads to Georgia in good form, having won the WGC Match Play in Texas last week - his second title of 2018.

But he has still been seeking the counsel of other experienced players in a bid for Masters title number three.

"The difference this time around is energy," Watson said on Monday. "I asked a few people, older gentlemen in our golfing lives: 'What do you need to work on and how do you recover from a stressful day?'

"Because mentally, physically you're going to be exhausted.

"So the change in preparation is less golf, not playing 18 holes. I'm looking for nine holes tomorrow and then the only golf I'll play on Wednesday will be the par-three contest."

Day counting on a friend

Jason Day, meanwhile, will have good friend Rika Batibasaga serving as his caddie at Augusta - and believes it could be the key to bringing him success.

The Australian former world number one has come close to winning the feted Green Jacket with two top-three finishes in his seven appearances.

After a winless 2017, coach Colin Swatton was relieved of caddying duties and friend Luke Reardon took over - before visa problems led to Day turning to Batibasaga.

"Col was great for the 10 years that we had and he is still my coach," said 30-year-old Day.

"When you have your coach on the bag, you kind of think: 'Well, he's going to say something about this shot after the round, so I better not play that shot.'

"Having Rika on the bag this week, I think hopefully that will make things a little bit more light out there for me and a little bit more fun.

"I think he's going to be nervous walking down the first hole, but he should be fine."

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