Rose: ‘Aronimink can’t be bullied.’

In his current form, Justin Rose will not easily defend his AT&T National this weekend – despite his liking for Aronimink.

After noting that he missed the cut in two key events in the past month or so, it’s not all that easy to see Justin Rose successfully defending his AT&T National this weekend.

This even if he does rate the Aronimink course so highly – he believes it would not only serve as a “great venue” for a major, but also that it is the kind of course where, with the right touch and the right frame of mind, he could win a major.

Rose’s problem heading into his tee-off at Aronimink on Thursday is that he isn’t in anything like the same form he was in last year when he won the AT&T here after also winning the Memorial and just missing a top-10 finish at the Masters.

In the last few weeks the 31-year-old Englishman has missed the cut at both The Memorial and the US Open and it doesn’t bode well for the tough week coming up.

He’ll need to bring his A Game to this course to have any chance – and Rose says so himself.

Aroimick “can’t be bullied. It’s a course you can’t chase scores on,” he told a teleconference recently.

“It’s about keeping the ball in (on the fairway and in the right places on the greens) and really taking your chances when they come.

“Obviously, if you’re playing well you start getting some more looks at it and you can start to take advantage. But if you start trying to find those birdies, then you start making bogeys.

“For me it was a test of patience more than any thing else, really,I felt last year. And yeah, the putter was hot. I feel like there doesn’t seem to be a stretch of the course that is easy or difficult.

“The easy holes are sort of dotted in evenly throughout the round. At least that’s the way I’m visualizing it right now.”

Are there any holes where he would be quite happy just to walk off with a par?

“Yeah, most of the par 4s, to be honest.

“It’s about driving well. If you’re hitting only 50 percent of your fairways, you’re going to be scrambling for par most of the day. The fairways were somewhat firm last year. The course didn’t play overly long, but you needed to put it in play. Then the whole course opens up . . .

“You really had to strategize your way around,” he went on. “It’s the kind of golf course you have to respect,” he told this week

When you’re feeling good with your game and you’re thinking correctly, those are the kind of courses that really suit you. If you’re somewhat off, you’re really behind the eight ball.”

It suited his game last year when he came to Aronimic on top of his form and all fired up after having won his first PGA Tour title a month earlier at the Memorial.

The tall Englishman, who turns 31 month, shot 10-under-par 270 to win by a shot from hard-charging Ryan Moore who was also seeking a maiden Tour title.

“So for me it was a test of patience more than any thing else; really, I felt last year.

“And yeah, my putter was hot. I feel like there doesn’t seem to be a stretch of the course that is easy or difficult. The easy holes are sort of dotted in evenly throughout the round. At least that’s the way I’m visualizing it right now.

“Any time as a player you get to come to a classic golf course like Aronimink is just a treat,” Rose insisted. “So I’ll be all for seeing a big championship go there, for sure. [That] would be fantastic.

“It seems like a great city. We had a great turnout. For me the atmosphere out on the golf course was really fun to be a part of and fun to play in front of. I think that’s a big part of hosting a big events.

“Not only do you need the golf course, which I think would fit perfectly, but you need the city to be able to support it. I think it does have that.”

Rose is currently 31st in the world rankings and 13th on the PGA Tour in finding the greens in regulation. In 14 PGA Tour events he has had three top 10s, with his best finish being a tie for third in late March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

His putting, he says, is the one thing not as good as it was last year; the one thing holding him back this year.

“I think there are two things that you need to do to keep the pilot light lit,” he says.

“One’s confidence and two is motivation.

“They both sound terribly obvious. But in the real world of playing professional golf 30 times a year, getting the balance correct is the challenge. And certainly it’s an interesting thing. So many facets of the game go into playing well. Sometimes for me the one that really keeps me playing ordinary can be the putting. And that’s what’s sort of been the missing link right now.

“I’m a streaky putter. When I get hot with it, I get very hot. I just need that little spark or something to get me going.

“The game seems easy when the putts are dropping, you know what I mean? And that’s where the confidence really starts to build. But I’ve had a lot of positives this year as well.”

Did he think being the reigning champion would be one of the plus factors this year?

“Yes and no,” he says.

“You have the potential downside of the pressure of expectation, but I think more than that you have the excitement and the energy that you can really gain from good memories.

“Very rarely do players go back-to-back. It’s something you know in the back of your mind you’d love to do, but you know to get the job done you have to stick to a process. And that process doesn’t change . . . whatever tournament it might be. The best way to get the job done is to stay in the moment and that will be very much my approach.

“It’s nice to sort of relive the memories again. When you turn up to the tournament, typically there’s one or two more pictures of you around the place. It’s nice to be able to relive what was a great experience.”