Justin Rose played golf again Friday, April 9, 2021, after a four-week absence due to an ailing back.
He finished practically hitch-free, firing a seven-under-par 65 to erect a four-shot lead after the first round of the Masters in Augusta, Georgia.
Impressive for the 40-year-old Briton playing the course in one of its toughest opening rounds where only 12 players broke par as against 53 when the Masters was last played in November.
Almost the entire field complained of a firm and fast greens—surprisingly, including Rose.
Are you kidding me?
Rose fired an eagle and seven birdies over a 10-hole stretch for his 65, breaking his previous Masters best of 67.
This came after Rose frighteningly went two-over after just seven holes with bogeys on No. 1 and on the seventh where he committed a golfer’s most dreaded mistake: a three-putt.
But in one of the most amazing rebounds ever, Rose eagled the par-5 8th then rattled off seven birdies, the longest putts of which were a couple outside eight feet.
He missed just one green but holed a 12-footer to save par.
Still, despite his blazing start, Rose wasn’t rejoicing. Not yet.
“You can’t win the golf tournament today,” he said. “Even with a 65, you can’t win it today.”
Just being realistic.
Rose had led the Masters first round before. Just like Jack Nicklaus.
Their commonality ends there as Nicklaus, owner of a record 18 majors, won two of his six green jackets from that position. Not Rose.
After finishing second twice, the last time was four years ago when he lost to Sergio Garcia in a playoff, Rose famously said: “I just got one arm in the jacket.”
Golf, indeed, is like the rosary: full of mysteries.
While Rose looks formidably ahead, never discount those with pedigrees from overhauling him. In golf, 54 more holes is a journey of the unknown.
Defending champion Dustin Johnson is at 74 after a double bogey on 18. Don’t drop him dead.
US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and three-time majors champion Rory McIlroy are at 76s. Don’t dump them yet.
Former Masters champion Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson and rookie Will Zalatoris are at 70s, and one shot behind at 69s are Japan’s Hideki “Lexus” Sugiyama and Brian Harman, the last to get into the 88-man field.
Close by at 71, yes, is Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Masters winner, whose Texas Open victory last week ended a four-year slump beginning after his 2017 British Open win.
So, even with a lead so huge, Rose doesn’t feel comfortable.
“If I’m honest, I didn’t feel like today was the day for a 65,” he said.
Rose kids us not.