Tiger Woods is not in the Northern Trust Open lineup this week, but the world No. 1 was not far from the thoughts of 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, who will make his PGA Tour comeback Thursday at Riviera.
Seems that Rose, who’s been on the DL since mid-December with shoulder tendinitis, threw out his arm when he tossed a ball to his caddy while playing with Woods at The Barclays last August.
"I threw a ball 60, 70 yards behind the fairway when I was playing with Tiger in the third round and I really kind of hurt it at that time and managed to play my way through the rest of the round and the rest of the week," Rose told reporters on Tuesday, ahead of his 7:22 a.m. (PT) tee time on No. 10 with Dustin Johnson and Jim Furyk.
"Just threw it too far really," added Rose, who was on the green when he tossed his golf ball down the fairway to his caddie. "That was the moment where I felt I did something."
Rose continued to play through the injury, compiling a fifth-place finish at the WGC-HSBC Champions and a T7 at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in December. After resting his shoulder over the holidays and putting in double-duty at the gym, Rose will contend this week.
"I played a lot of golf late into the season last year and if I'm honest, I played a little bit injured, a little bit hurt," said Rose, who seemed to expect he would have to shake off some rust. "I was hoping that the Christmas break would clean things up but I had to work a little bit harder at my fitness ... It was a race against time to really get back playing and get back strong, and if I'm honest, I've only really been hitting balls, drivers, for about a week, ten days now. So it really has been down to the wire."
Rose was in a rush to return so he could get in his competitive reps before the Masters in two months.
"If you want to play well at Augusta, it might start now," he said. "Certainly I want to be 100 percent come April."
The five-time tour winner will also join Rory McIlroy at next week’s match play tourney in Arizona, with Woods, Adam Scott, and Phil Mickelson among the superstars choosing not to attempt to scale Dove Mountain. How he performs outside of Tucson will determine his immediate pre-Masters future.
"If you go really deep into the match play, I think that might alter my Florida schedule a little bit," said Rose, who planned to compete in four straight events. "I feel like that week can be half a week off or it can be a very intense week. You almost play that one by ear.
"I certainly don't want to over‑golf myself straightaway after coming off not playing much golf," Rose said, "but certainly my intent is to play next week."