Rose shoots 69 for first round lead

Thursday, April 05, 2007
By Adam Van Brimmer
Morris News Service

AUGUSTA -- Justin Rose will forever be remembered as the 17-year-old amateur who contended at the 1998 British Open.

His Masters Tournament career is memorable as well, albeit for a failure rather than a success. A third-round 81 dropped him from the lead to 20th place in the 2004 Masters.

The Englishman has a chance this weekend to replace those memories.

Rose shot a 3-under-par 69 Thursday in the opening round of the 2007 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.

Rose led Brett Wetterich, a Masters rookie still on the course as of 5 p.m., by a shot.

Tim Clark, the 2006 Masters runner-up, led a group of seven players tied for third place at 1-under. Clark birdied No. 18 to shoot a 1-under 71. Augusta native Vaughn Taylor, 2002 PGA Championship winner Rich Beem and 1982 Masters champ Craig Stadler joined the group at 1-under.

Tourney favorites Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh struggled on a windy day in Augusta. Woods and Singh were still on the course, with Woods at 1-over par through 10 holes and Singh 2-over through 10. Mickelson, the defending champion, finished with a 4-over-par 76.

Rose built his lead thanks to a remarkable day on and around Augusta's tricky greens. He hit only five greens in his round but needed just 20 putts to post the second-best round of his career at Augusta National. He opened the 2004 Masters with a 5-under 67.

Rose burst on the golf scene nine years ago at Royal Birkdale. He finished tied for fourth, two shots behind winner Mark O'Meara.

Rose has struggled in the years since, never finishing higher than ninth on the European Tour money list.

Rose posted a victory earlier this year in Europe and also finished third at the PGA Tour's Bob Hope Chrysler tournament. But a back injury sidelined him for the six weeks leading up to the Masters.

Ian Woosnam withdrew from the Masters before the start of the first round because of soreness in his back. The 1991 Masters champion had missed the cut in the last six Masters.

Large and early-arriving galleries greeted the golfer's Thursday. Several thousand patrons arrived at the course before the gates opened to see Arnold Palmer hit the ceremonial first tee shot.

Palmer, who retired from Masters play after the 2004 tournament, hit his drive down the left side of the No. 1 fairway.