AUGUSTA, GA. – Justin Rose has already won a US Open. Now he’s leading another major. On one of the toughest days in recent Masters history, Rose went out and fired an astonishing 7-under-65 that will almost certainly be the round of the week and was one of the best. to the field meanin the tournament’s 85-year history. Even crazier is that this is one of the stronger fields in the tournament’s recent history, with none of the world’s top 50 players missing due to injury.
One day when the field average got above 74, Rose looked like he was going the same way with two bogeys in his first seven holes. Then he played the next 11 in 9 under with seven birdies and an eagle. The result is his fourth lead or co-leadaccording to Justin Ray after the first round in Masters history, Jack Nicklaus draw. Rose also leads or leads his sixth round ever at the Masters, most for anyone without a green jacket.
Recorded strokes is a sometimes confusing statistic, but in this case it is educational. The number of strokes you take on the field is a nice way to say how much better you were than the field average. Double digits in a single lap only come up a handful of times a year on the PGA Tour anyway, let alone a major championship. Rose finished with just under 10 strokes on the day. (Again, he started 2 through 7!)
Rose is leading with four off Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama, which is important as he failed to get rid of any of those other three first-round leads at the Masters. Although he has a great history on this course, he is still looking for his first green coat. The breathing space it’s built in may not be as stable as it seems. Rose has only three top 10s in 19 starts worldwide since golf returned last June. He has been – at various times – one of the top five players in the world. He may not be in the top 50 at the moment.
However, players like Rose don’t forget how to ride a bike in major championships. He was helped by the fact that most of the top 10 players in the world had bumpy first days. Dustin Johnson is back nine. Jon Rahm is back six. Rory McIlroy is 11 back. There is room for Rose to move.
First-round honors are fun, but a player with Rose’s resume and career only cares about collecting titles. Now he has his best chance ever with 54 holes left at the Masters. With one of the grand tours in tournament history to his credit, he is the new favorite to close his second major title. It no longer takes 54 holes of what he did on Thursday, but it will cost him his life for the next three days as a desperate field thunders after him on a course that has so far demanded absolute perfection.
2. The toughest test: Remember when 20 under won here in November? In the first round of the Masters 2020, 24 players in the 60s shot in the first round. On Thursday, only three achieved that feat. The combination of smoother greens, a little bit of wind and firmer conditions undid almost anyone not called “Rose”.
“Definitely playing a lot harder just because when the greens are firm and fast here, the golf course is tough,” said defending champion Dustin Johnson, who shot a 2-over 74. it plays really difficult. “
This means a lot of different things, but most importantly, despite Rose’s huge lead, no one is really out. Augusta National can now do whatever they want with the golf course. They can dial it in or they can withdraw it. The next three days are going to be insanely demanding, meaning everything is still really live and a four-stroke lead equates to nothing with 54 holes left.
3. The atmosphere of Great One: I was on the 7th hole on Thursday and watched Johnson’s group, and Wayne Gretzky was there (Johnson is engaged to Gretzky’s daughter, Paulina) and talked about how much more energy this year is on the field compared to the November Masters. I’ve felt it all day, and that’s the right word for it. This weekend, the roar won’t be what we’ve been used to historically, but there’s a whole different juice flowing through this tournament than it was five months ago.
4. Rory’s Story: A frustrating trend continued for the four-time winner. He shot a 4-over 76 in the first round, including a ball in the water at No. 13 and a shot from his father’s leg (for real) at No. 7. His opening round has become more the rule than the exception to the last few years.
5. The top 10 theory: Since 2005, only Tiger Woods has come out of the top 10 after round 1 to win this golf tournament. If that holds up, your winner will be one of the following 12 golfers.
- Justin got up
- Brian Harman
- Hideki Matsuyama
- Will Zalatoris
- Webb Simpson
- Christiaan Bezuidenhout
- Patrick Reed
- Si Woo Kim
- Jason Kokrak
- Shane Lowry
- Tyrrell Hatton
- Jordan Spieth
6. Spieth’s Ride: I picked up Spieth at an inconvenient time on Thursday when he tripled on the par-4 9th hole. He knocked his second off a tree and discussed the launch angles of his 4 iron versus his 3 wood to try and hit something over a protruding root, under a branch and on top of the green to try and save bogey. He didn’t, but the whole sequence is all part of the fun (if you want to call it that) with him. He ended up with a chip-in eagle at No. 15 that should have been rolling in the water, which, if you’re not paying close enough attention, is definitely half the fun. Spieth finished 1 under and played the second nine in 3 under.
7. Timeless Woosie: Ian Woosnam, 63, shot a 76 (the same as Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and Sergio Garcia) with what he called a torn muscle in his groin. He cut Patrick Cantlay, Jason Day and Lee Westwood. I’m not sure enough has been made. “I really play on one leg, so yeah,” he said. “Besides, I haven’t had a scorecard in my hand for 18 months, so I was really damn satisfied.”
8. Zalatoris Debut: It flew a little under the radar, but Will Zalatoris came into the house early Thursday with a 2-under 70. I loved this quote from him afterward: “Yeah, some kind of joke I said with my family is like I’m dumb enough to think I can play here, then I’m dumb enough to think I can win. “
9. Reed … again? Will Patrick Reed win two Masters in four years? Five years ago I would have told you that was impossible, but he’s 2 under after a few 34s with only three players in front of him. Of that group in the top 10, he is one of only three with a big win and the only one with a green jacket.
Bonus – Meme-d into oblivion: The Trials and Trials of Life as a Golf Writer. I was filmed standing behind Lee Westwood’s golf ball on the third hole and immediately received the “Bernie Sanders inauguration” treatment from the golf Twitter crowd. It was somehow both embarrassing and satisfying at the same time.
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