The Masters: Fooch returns to Justin Rose's bag after heart surgery

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World No.1 Justin Rose's caddie Mark Fulcher is back on the bag, and Rose is planning to make their past experiences together count

Justin Rose's long time caddie Mark Fulcher is making his return this week after being sidelined for the past three months as he recovered from heart surgery. 

Henrik Stenson's former caddie Gareth Lord had taken over duties in the interim, and Rose said during his press conference that Fooch had asked just one thing of Lord while he was away: return his player as World No.1.

Rose, who regained the top spot on Monday from Dustin Johnson, called it a 'nice touch'. 

"Fooch is back this week which has been sort of a long awaited arrival for him," said Rose.  "I know time has been going very slowly for him and he's been chomping at the bit to get back, but he's stayed very much integrated and engaged in my game, one of his best mates out here on Tour is Gareth Lord; and they have been communicating a lot with what has been going on and Fooch has come down to see me on my weeks off on a couple of occasions.

"Once he knew he was looking good to caddie this week, which was his ultimate goal, he came out to Austin, Texas to kind of get some of the back slapping out of the way and hey, Fooch, how you doing, out of the way, so he could focus on business this week, which was smart of him."

fooch

"I'm excited. You mentioned the world No. 1, that's obviously cool but that was a fun little story that, Fooch said to Lordy, you've got one job, just give him back to me as world No. 1. The fact that the ranking switched this week was kind of a nice touch."

“I could have come back at the Match Play [two weeks ago], but I thought why push it,” added Fooch. “I’m very happy. It feels good to be back.”

Rose, who has been in the final group at the Masters a couple of times and has two runner-up finishes in his last four starts at Augusta, thinks Fooch's past experiences by his side are going to prove very important over the weekend. 

"I think ‑‑ I feel like we've learned together so much here, I wouldn't expect a nugget of information I don't know to come out during practice.

"Where Fooch is going to earn his money and earn his position on the bag and earn his importance on the team is on Saturday and Sunday. Basically when emotions start to get more intense and there's more variability from that point of view, that's when I'm going to rely on him more and more. I think very much, I'm very comfortable.

"If I had anybody caddie for me Thursday, Friday, I would probably be in very good shape and be very comfortable. It's when the going gets tough, that's when I think someone who knows you so well and we have so many positive experiences out there under pressure that we can draw on together; that's where Fooch is going to come into his own for me."

As for how he feels coming in to this event as World No.1, given that World No.1s have typically struggled here in recent times? He isn't worried at all. 

"DJ has been the No. 1 predominately in the last year and a half," Rose said. "So I think the weeks that I am No. 1, it's really cool. I feel like I haven't had my run yet where I've sort of separated myself as the No. 1 player in the world. That's a goal of mine, still.

"So I don't look at it that way, really, at all. So no one's really being that dominant right now. I think if anyone's been dominant, it's been Rory in the last sort of couple of months.
Hence, why the ranking between Brooks, myself, Dustin, even going back to Justin Thomas, it's bounced around a lot. From that point of view, I'm not going to take on that story."