Justin Rose began today’s Volvo Masters in not-so-splendid isolation after blaming poor scheduling for a disappointing season.
Rose won the season-ending tournament 12 months ago to become European number one for the first time, but failed to qualify by right this year.
The 28-year-old is 81st on the Order of Merit with only the top 60 qualifying, but has been invited to compete as defending champion.
With Angel Cabrera, Adam Scott, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen declining to travel to Valderrama, Rose’s inclusion means a 57-strong field and leaves the Englishman as the odd one out.
The field teed off in money-list order today with Rose out first on his own at 8.15am local time.
“I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to come back and play,” he admitted.
“There’s been a lot of talk this week of why am I playing, I think it’s pretty obvious that this event is about being top 60.
“If I was put somewhere other than where I am in the field I would be interrupting the flow of the draw in terms of everyone playing with who they should be playing with.
“The fact I’m playing first, I’m more than happy with that. I think I have the option of having a marker and I think I’d rather not. I would rather have nobody getting in my way.
“When you go out and play on your own at your home club, that’s quite a nice feeling. It’s a different situation when you’re in a competitive round of golf but it will just give me some extra time.”
Rose has failed to win a tournament in 2008 and recorded only three top-10s, and feels such disappointing form is down to mistakes in his schedule.
“I feel like I’ve slightly messed up this year a little bit,” he added. “I feel what worked so well for me last year – taking quite a bit of time off, taking weeks off before majors – has not worked this year.
“It has been stops and starts and I don’t feel like I’ve got a lot of momentum going. That’s probably one area I can look at.
“It just goes to show you, you always have to adapt and there’s no hard and fast way to do things. Sometimes you need to play your way into a bit of form and I just didn’t give myself an opportunity.
“I found I was taking a week off and you come back out and things just didn’t click again.”
The four players in with a chance of replacing Rose as European number one were due to tee off last today, with Robert Karlsson in pole position to become the first Swedish golfer to win the Order of Merit.
Karlsson is £230,312 (€289,603) ahead of Padraig Harrington on the money list, with Lee Westwood and Miguel Angel Jimenez still also in with an outside chance of lifting the Harry Vardon Trophy.