Justin Rose picked up where he left off.
After posting 14-under last year – good enough to win most Masters – the Englishman stayed hot Thursday with an opening round 69.
“To open in the 60s is always fantastic,” Rose said. “I’m delighted to shoot (69) with this wind, and I think it’s going to continue to blow this way for the next couple days. To get in a good round while we had it somewhat soft was very important.”
Rose made six birdies and did it with a new putting grip. A week before coming to Augusta National Golf Club, he adopted a claw grip for the first time in his career.
“It’s a big change for me,” Rose said. “The claw grip seems to be getting popular on tour, so I decided to adopt it during my off week. I kind of stumbled across it and it felt too good to deny. I second-
guessed it many times last week but kept coming back to it.”
Rose had 30 putts and one three-putt in his opening round.
“I’ve putted OK this year, but if I’m going to win the Masters I’ll have to putt great,” he said. “It’s a gamble, but I felt like I needed to do something to improve my putting. I need to do what it takes to win and not think about the safe move.”
Rose said his most difficult challenge Thursday was trusting in the wind.
“Visually I’m hitting a 6-iron from 170 yards, and that’s messing with your head,” Rose said. “A 6-iron is usually a 195-yard shot, but wind changes all of that. Today I had to trust the wind.”
Rose carded 34 on the first nine before an aggressive breeze picked up over his final nine holes. He closed with 35 that included birdies on Nos. 10, 13 and 15. He bogeyed Nos. 11 and 16.
“It’s going to be much harder to chase birdies down Friday and Saturday,” he said. “This wind is tough and it looks like it’ll be challenging again (Friday).”