Justin Rose will enter the weekend in a familiar spot at Augusta National: contention.
The Englishman carded 72 Friday and enters Saturday three shots behind leaders Charley Hoffman, Sergio Garcia, Thomas Pieters and Rickie Fowler.
“I’m in a decent position going into the weekend,” Rose said. “But my short game is one area where I’m not entirely happy. Little things like on No. 18. Sure, that’s a tough up-and-down, but it’s a makeable up-and-down. I’m not quite converting enough of those.”
Rose, who tied for second at the 2015 Masters, opened play with a 71 Thursday and had an uphill putt on No. 18 to match that number Friday. However, following an average chip from below the green, Rose failed to save par.
“That bogey on 18 was a disappointing way to finish,” Rose said.
Through two rounds, Rose has combined to shoot 3-under on the first nine holes, while he’s 2-over on the second nine. On Friday, Rose made birdies on Nos. 5, 9, 13 and 15. He bogeyed Nos. 4, 12, 14 and 18.
“I got pretty much what I deserved,” Rose said. “Even par is a good score around here but a couple of mistakes stopped it from being a really good day.”
Rose believes his success at other venues could play to his advantage this weekend. In 2013, he won the U.S. Open at Merion and last summer captured an Olympic gold medal at the Rio Games.
“Having a major in my back pocket and having a gold medal in my back pocket – yeah, they’re all important experiences,” Rose said. “They’re evidence that when I set my mind to something, I can bring my best golf.”
Adding significance to the weekend, Sunday marks what would-have-been the 60th birthday for two-time Masters champion Seve Ballesteros. Despite being from different parts of Europe (Rose, England; Ballesteros, Spain), the two were close friends and Rose said that winning his first Masters on Ballesteros’ birthday would be “very special.”
Ballesteros died in 2011 from a brain tumor.
“Seve was one of my idols growing up, for sure,” Rose said. “He was always incredibly encouraging to me, even in my early days when I was struggling. He was one of the few guys to always reach out and give me encouraging words.”