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Justin Rose joins buddy Henrik Stenson in skipping WGC-Dell Match Play


Paul Mounce - Corbis

With the Masters looming, golf’s top players are doing whatever it takes to get ready for Augusta National. Even if that means skipping high-profile events in the coming weeks.

While some pros are choosing to bypass next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational—to the consternation of others—other events are also seeing highly-ranked golfers bowing out. Earlier this week, Henrik Stenson said he was skipping the WGC-Dell Match Play. So too is Justin Rose.

“It was a very difficult decision,” the Olympic gold medalist told Golf World. “I had to look at what I felt was maybe the best preparation for me to do well at Augusta, and that was 72-hole stroke play. Guaranteeing that type of golf. Match play is a fun format, but it’s unpredictable.”

Instead of playing the Match Play, Rose will play the Shell Houston Open the week prior to the Masters. The last time he played in the event, 2015, he came back to finish tied for second at Augusta behind Jordan Spieth.

“I kind of felt like I want to play my way into Augusta,” said Rose, who visited the course this week to get some early prep work in. “You can think about the Masters for too long prior to it. I think by playing Houston, it’s going to sort of curb my enthusiasm for an extra week and hopefully I’ll get to Augusta and be ready to play.”

Rose reached the quarterfinals at the Match Play in 2007, but has not fared well in the event since. He lost in the first round in 2008, 2009 and 2012, the second round in 2011, 2013 and 2014. In the last two years, when the format changed to include Round Robin play, Rose has failed to advance out of his group both times.