England's Rose, Donald among PGA favorites
14 Mar 2012 - 19:16:54
World No. 2 Luke Donald and English compatriot Justin Rose, coming off a victory last week at Doral, will play together when the US PGA Transitions Championship begins on Thursday.
South Korean K.J. Choi, a two-time winner at the $5.5 million event, joins the feature group in one of the final tuneups for the first major championship of the year, next month's Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.
Donald shared sixth in 2010 in his only prior appearance in the event and shared sixth last week in the World Golf Championships event at Doral as well.
"Hopefully I can have a good, solid week, build off last week, and then I'll have a good couple of weeks of practice at home and feel confident about my chances," Donald said.
"I always enjoy Augusta. I had a good opportunity last year and was in the mix and looking forward to getting back there."
Nothing would top the season for the reigning money champion on the US and European tours than to collect his first major title at Augusta National.
"I would love to win a major," he said. "That's always been something I'm striving to do. I think that would make my resume look a lot better."
Rose is coming off his his fourth US victory in the past 22 months and has finished in the top 25 in each of his past five starts at Innisbrook.
"I'm excited about the run that I'm on right now," Rose said. "Certainly nice to get No. 4 in a relatively short space of time and begin to grow some momentum and certainly develop some confidence."
Defending champion Gary Woodland, last year's runner-up Webb Simpson and Scott Stalling, third in 2011, arer also paired together for the first and second rounds.
The field features 17 major winners, including reigning Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa and three-time major winners Ernie Els of South Africa, Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Vijay Singh of Fiji.
Japanese prodigy Ryo Ishikawa is joined by Bud Cauley and US debutante Tom Lewis, the Englishman who had four birdies in a row at last year's British Open to become the first amateur to lead that event in 43 years, in a 21-and-under trio.
Rose can feel his game coming together as the Masters looms, giving him a chance at his first major title.
"Everything is in order," Rose said. "Maybe not everything shows up on the same day, and when it does, that's the day you go low.
"Some days I rely on my putting. Other days I rely on my short game. Other days I rely on hitting the ball really well. I feel like everything is there or thereabouts. It's just a matter of using one of them well every day.
"It's nice to know that there's kind of a few different ways to play well, which I think that's probably a strength right now."
Much was predicted for Rose at a young age but he sees himself as ready to play his best golf between his 30th and 40th birthdays.
"It has just been a matter of finally putting into practice all of the things I've learned, establishing a good team around me, getting to a point in my life where I'm comfortable on and off the golf course," Rose said.
"It's a lot of factors that go into playing well. It's not always just about the golf swing or how you're putting. It's putting your life together along with the golf. That's probably what has happened in the last two years."