LOS ANGELES (AP) — Justin Rose is ready to get back to golf.
His baseball career is over.
It wasn't actually a baseball that caused the U.S. Open champion to wait until the middle of February at the Northern Trust Open to play his first golf tournament of the year. Rose has been home with an ailing shoulder that was a problem deep into last year.
He traced it to a bad decision at The Barclays last August in New Jersey.
He was on the green at Liberty National and his caddie was some 60 yards away — Rose recalls him raking a bunker — when Rose heaved a golf ball in his direction.
"I think that was the moment where it started to flare up from that point on the rest of the year," he said at Riviera. "Just threw it too far, really."
Rose recovered quickly that week and had the best chance to win. He had a 25-foot birdie putt for the outright lead on the 18th hole and wound up three-putting for bogey to finish one shot behind Adam Scott.
But it continued to nag at him the rest of the European Tour season, and he was hopeful some time off around the holidays would help. He returns much later than he imagined, but figured it was time to get to work ahead of the Florida swing and leading into the Masters.
"It was a race against time to really get back playing and get back strong," he said. "And if I'm honest, I've only really been hitting balls, drivers, for about a week, 10 days now. So it really has been down to the wire. But I figured that I wanted to get out and play, and if I wanted to play well in the near future, I thought it was important for me to get out and play some competitive golf.
"My game has felt really good at home," he said. "I'm swinging it really nicely and everything technically looks really good. Had an opportunity to spend a lot of time on my short game, but when you get a scorecard in your hand everything is a little different. So I wanted so make sure I got my season underway."
The field at Riviera isn't as strong as it has been in recent years, most of that due to Phil Mickelson taking off this week because his oldest daughter is on winter break. Adam Scott chose not to play — he won't return until the Honda Classic.