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Justin Rose set for defence of Memorial title
June 2, 2011

Justin Rose will launch his title defence at this week’s Memorial tournament with the same, largely positive, feelings about his game he experienced last year.

Twelve months ago at Muirfield Village Golf Club, Rose believed he was in good form without achieving the rewards which he perhaps deserved.

However, he ended that week by winning his maiden PGA Tour title by two shots and followed that up with another victory, at the AT&T National, just two tournaments later.

“It’s really nice to come back to a tournament where I have had great memories from last year,” Rose told reporters while preparing for Thursday’s opening round at Muirfield Village.

“It’s one of my favourite weeks of the year, even before I won it last year. It’s always been one of my favourite stops.

“I feel like my game is in a very similar situation to how it was last year. I’m playing really well without having had the results. I think the key is patience.”

A four-times winner on the European Tour, Rose has not triumphed anywhere since the 2010 AT&T National, despite producing several good weeks on the PGA Tour this season.

“I’ve been disappointed,” said the 30-year-old Englishman who has recorded Three top-10s in 12 starts. “Ultimately you always judge things by results, but I’ve been trying to do my best to look at a career, a trend line.

“I think I’ve made huge gains this year in a lot of other areas of my game. I’m playing beautifully. It’s just that little bit of making the right putt at the right time, which is what I managed to do in this stretch last year.”

The Jack Nicklaus-hosted PGA Tour event has typically attracted a strong field with six of the world’s top-10 players, and 12 of the top 20, taking part this week. Tiger Woods, a four-time winner of the tournament, is not playing because of his knee and Achilles tendon injuries.

Luke Donald, who became world number one for the first time with a playoff victory over fellow Briton Lee Westwood in the European Tour’s PGA Championship on Sunday, was especially delighted to be back at the Memorial.

“Jack’s tournament is very special,” Donald said before setting off in Wednesday’s pro-am competition at Muirfield Village. “Jack has had an influence in my career already so far, and it’s nice to be back here supporting his event.

“I am obviously coming off a great week last week. All the spoils that went with winning over Lee has meant a lot, and I’m looking forward to getting back to work.”

Former Memorial champions playing this week include South Korean K.J. Choi (2007), Swede Carl Pettersson (2006), South African Ernie Els (2004) and American Jim Furyk (2002).

Regular competitors at the Memorial will notice one significant change to the par-72 layout.

The par-three 16th has been made more visually intimidating with a large pond now guarding the left of the green, which has been repositioned more horizontally to the tee.

“I think there’s going to be a lot more twos … a lot more excitement,” Nicklaus said. “I think you’ll also find a few double-bogeys that will come in there. An errant shot will not be rewarded and a good shot will be rewarded.”

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