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Rose improves by turning putting into an 'art'

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Justin Rose at the 2018 Valspar Championship.  - 

HUMBLE, Texas – As he gets set to try to improve upon last year’s runner-up finish at Augusta National, Justin Rose brings plenty of momentum with him into this week’s Houston Open. And while he’s known as one of the game’s best ball-strikers, it’s actually been his putting that has become a strength in recent weeks.

Rose continues to excel on the greens this year, chasing a T-5 finish at the Valspar Championship with a third-place showing in his last start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. After ranking outside the top 100 in strokes gained: putting every season since 2012, the Englishman suddenly finds himself fifth in the category nearly halfway through the season.

It’s a turnaround that Rose credits to his switch to the claw grip, which he first dabbled with at the 2016 Masters and has been using regularly since last year.

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“Sort of feel like it desensitizes it for me a little bit, which I think is actually a good thing,” Rose said. “I don’t nitpick every single stroke that I make. Before I would feel I would pull it, push it, all sorts of things. Now I feel like it’s pretty locked in, so it enables me to focus more on what I call skill acquisition, which is read, speed and other skills.”

Rose has three straight top-10s at the Masters, including a runner-up to Jordan Spieth in 2016 and a memorable playoff loss to Sergio Garcia last year. Heading into perhaps the most demanding short-game week of the season, his plan for success includes making putting more of an art and less of a science.

“You can have the perfect stroke, but you’re not necessarily going to make putts,” Rose said. “It enables me to focus on the art form of putting and not obsess too much about the technique.”