Rose sets early pace as Poulter grabs the glory with hole-in-one
Friday 11 April 2008
Justin Rose has been here before. Indeed the great hope of England has now remarkably been here the last three times he has played the Masters. At the head of the leaderboard after the first round of the year's first major and seemingly in the form of his life. For 2004 and 2007 read 2008. Except this time Rose is determined the tale will not be tinged in anti-climax.
His opening 68 certainly suggests glory could be just three rounds away. The 27-year-old produced a startling run of four birdies on the bounce and six birdies in eight holes to take the lead. He was joined on four-under first by the South African Trevor Immelman and then by his compatriot Lee Westwood. His late push capped a unforgettable first day for British golf.
It would have been more memorable still if Westwood could have closed out the deal. Alas he bogeyed the 17th and finished with a 69. He was the last man to tee off and was fast running out of daylight because of the morning fog which forced delay. That was a shame as Westwood was the protagonist of the last few hours, sculpting iron shot after iron shot and peppering pins. In seven holes from the eighth he conjured four birdies, although in truth it could have been seven. He was that imperious.
Meanwhile, yet another Englander's magnificence happened to be wrapped up in one magical instant. Ian Poulter's hole-in-one was the image of this enthralling Thursday. Although, as ever, that man Tiger Woods staked his own claim in that regard.
Until chipping in for an eagle at the 15th the world No 1 appeared in deep trouble at two-over and, to be frank, playing like an absolute drain. Only Tiger can transform the putrid into the sweetest perfume with such apparent ease. His one moment of brilliance over the back of that par-five allowed him to "escape" with a 72 and so turn the crisis into a drama. Do not be surprised if he proceeds to turn his drama into yet another award winner.
Yet he will first have to get past Rose and Immelman. And that will not be as straightforward as the bookmakers will have it. If anything, the manner in which Rose sent back the tide was even more staggering than the Tiger turnaround. After five holes he was two-over; after 13 he was four-under. That is not supposed to happen at the new, lengthened Augusta, where par is now the aim and birdie a mere bonus.
How Rose managed it was largely down to his clinical approach play – as well as a little motivation from Poulter. "I was on the fifth fairway when I heard a huge roar go up and I knew there was a hole-in-one on 16," said Rose. "I glanced over and saw Poults striding up the fairway all excited and I knew. So I had a little smile to myself. Yeah, it may have inspired me." Within four holes he had chalked up a birdie quadruple with a 20-footer on the ninth. "I'm a different player to when I've led here before," he said. "I'm more consistent. I'm right where I want to be."
So, too, is Poulter, although his 70 was the very least his peerless performance deserved. "That was pretty much a flawless ball-striking round of golf," declared Poulter, an outburst of modesty that may just have caused the slightest roll of the eyeballs. After all he has recently been coined "No 2" by Woods after an ill-advised comment in a British golf magazine – "When I reach my potential it will just be me and Tiger". But at two-under, he is so far living up to that mischievous moniker.
The exhilarating event on the 170-yard par three certainly marked down Poulter as one of the world's elite. An eight-iron drawn over the water stirred the thus far muted gallery into a frenzy. In doing so he became just the 11th player in Masters history to ace the tricky 16th.
On instants such as this it is tempting to use the word "fluky". Yet there had been nothing remotely fortunate about Poulter's dramatic leap up the ranks. He hit 16 of the 18 greens in regulation, including the first 11; a giddying feat on this layout, which was playing as difficult as ever despite the near perfect conditions. A few of the pin positions were on the very brink of ridiculous. A few other others plainly toppled over that brink.
The chances really were everywhere and after missing 13 putts under 15 feet in the first 15 holes, Poulter did well to keep his emotions in check. However, on the 16th they were to joyously bubble over. As he watched his ball land 25 feet from the hole before rolling down the slope into the cup, Poulter experienced a new high. "That's probably the biggest adrenaline rush I've had," confessed Poulter. There would inevitably would be a comedown and the bogey on the 17th was the only one of his round.
Still, he was far from disappointed, particularly when he analysed the scorecards and saw how some of his countrymen had eventually fared after featuring on the leaderboard. The debutant Nick Dougherty was two-under after three holes, but finished with a 74 after a mid-round wobble, while Luke Donald's stumble came in the last five holes. He dropped three shots on the run-in and slipped back to one-over.
More on the Masters:
Click here to view the Masters score card
Click here to view the Augusta course hole by hole
First-round scores from Augusta
Justin Rose (Eng),
Trevor Immelman (SA)
Lee Westwood (Eng)
Ian Poulter (Eng)
Robert Karlsson (Swe)
Stephen Ames (Can)
Peter Lonard (Aus)
Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind)
P Casey (Eng)
R Goosen (SA)
Robert Allenby (Aus)
Sandy Lyle (Sco)
Daniel Chopra (Swe)
Luke Donald (Eng)
Angel Cabrera (Arg)
Richard Sterne (SA)
B Langer (Ger)
Padraig Harrington (Irl)
Nick O'Hern (Aus)
Nick Dougherty (Eng)
Henrik Stenson (Swe)
Rory Sabbatini (SA)
Ian Woosnam (Wal)
Soren Hansen (Den)
Geoff Ogilvy (Aus)
Niclas Fasth (Swe)
D J Trahan
Martin Kaymer (Ger)
Liang Wen-Chong (Ch)
Toru Taniguchi (Japan) Stuart Appleby (Aus)
Jose Maria Olazabal (Sp)
Michael Campbell (NZ)
Scott Verplank, Larry Mize
Miguel Angel Jimenez (Sp)
Richard Green (Aus)
T Clark, John Rollins
Charles Howell III
Anders Hansen (Den)
Fuzzy Zoeller, Steve Lowery
Gary Player (SA)
Today's tee-off times for the Masters second round
All times BST; (US unless stated)
13.00 T Hamilton, B Bateman
13.11 C Stadler, J Wagner, S Flesch
13.22 I Woosnam (GB), R Green (Aus), S Ames (Can)
13.33 B Weekley, T Immelman (SA), S O'Hair
13.44 S Lyle (GB), J Rollins, JB Holmes
13.55 S Hansen (Den), D Chopra, R Sterne (SA)
14.06 T Watson, B Snedeker, J Senden (Aus)
14.17 T Clark (SA), D Toms, N Fasth (Swe)
14.28 R Floyd, D Weaver (a), J Byrd
14.39 B Langer (Ger),
P Marksaeng (Thai), W Austin
14.50 B Watson, S Garcia (Sp), M Calcavecchia
15.12 A Scott (Aus), P Casey (GB), R Goosen (SA)
15.23 V Singh (Fiji),
S Stricker, S Cink
15.34 P Mickelson,
A Romero (Arg), KJ Choi (S Kor)
15.45 E Els (SA), S Katayama (Japan), J Furyk
15.56 A Baddeley (Aus), C Villegas (Colom), L Westwood (GB)
16.07 B Curtis, S Micheel
16.18 F Zoeller, B Wetterich, H Slocum
16.29 M O'Meara, T Kuehne (a), I Poulter (GB)
16.40 L Mize, P Lonard (Aus), H Mahan
16.51 G Player (SA), M Angel Jimenez (Sp), D Trahan
17.02 J Leonard, C Howell III, N Watney
17.24 S Verplank, R Allenby, M Campbell
17.35 B Crenshaw, M Thompson (a), N O'Hern (Aus)
17.46 S Lowery, R Karlsson (Swe), N Dougherty (GB)
17.57 F Couples, J Kelly, A Hansen (Den)
18.08 V Taylor, M Kaymer (Ger), A Oberholser
18.19 J M Olazabal, L Wen-chong, R Sabbatini (SA)
18.30 Z Johnson, L Donald (GB), G Ogilvy (Aus)
18.41 M Weir (Can), P Harrington (Irl), J M Singh (India)
18.52 T Woods, A Cabrera (Arg), S Appleby (Aus)
19.03 J Rose (GB), H Stenson (Swe), T Taniguchi (Japan)
Augusta weather forecast
Today Temp: High 28C
Maximum humidity: 63 per cent
Tomorrow Temp: High 26C
Maximum humidity:66 per cent
Temp: High 18C
Humidity: 51 per cent
TV schedule: 21.00-22.30, BBC2 and 22.35-24.00, BBC1
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