Rose's lead wilts once again

Saturday, April 12, 2008
By Nathan Dominitz
Morris News Service

This time, Justin Rose didn't wait until the third round to waste a lead at the Masters Tournament.

Justin Rose sticks out his tongue after a shot from a greenside bunker at the ninth hole. On the 15th hole, the first-round co-leader shot eight for triple bogey. He finished tied for 29th.

(Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff)

Then again, Rose still has two rounds to recover from Friday's 78, which dropped the first-round co-leader into a tie for 29th at 2-over.

The 78 might have brought back painful memories of 2004, when Rose had the lead after the first (67) and second (71) rounds, then dropped to 20th after shooting 81 in the third round. The Englishman finished tied for 22nd with another 71 in the fourth round.

Rose, 27, has had a share of the first-round lead in three of his four trips to Augusta National Golf Club. His best finish came last year, a tie for fifth after leading the first round.

His co-leader Thursday, Trevor Immelman, built on a 4-under start with another 68 and took sole possession of first place at 8-under -- one shot better than Brandt Snedeker.

Both Immelman and Snedeker had early tee times Friday. Rose, meanwhile, was in the last group of the day with a 2:03 p.m. start.

Rose, who hit all 18 fairways, met his downfall at the 530-yard, par-5 No. 15. He flubbed a wedge shot into the water and took a drop. His next shot flew over the green and almost into the pond at No. 16.

A bump-and-run across the green almost found water again. Rose posted an eight on the hole, freefalling from 2-under to 1-over.

Another bogey followed at the par-3 16th, but then he steadied himself with pars on Nos. 17 and 18.

At the start of the round, when he was 4-under, Rose led off with pars on Nos. 1-4, then a bogey on the par-4 No. 5, another three pars and a bogey on No. 9.

Five more pars followed until the ill-fated journey at No. 15.

Rose did not talk to reporters after the round.

Rose has averaged 69.25 in first rounds and entered Friday averaging 74 for second rounds. The 81 in 2004 was his worst round at the Masters; his best -- the 67 -- came the same week.

Rose, the ninth-ranked player in the world, did make the cut this week and will tee off at 11:30 a.m. today with Australian Stuart Appleby.

Rose and Immelman are trying to become the first first-round leader to win the green jacket since Ben Crenshaw did it in 1984.