Rose Leads Play Called on Day 1

By Sports NetworkApril 8, 2004, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Justin Rose fired a 5-under-par 67 on Thursday to take the early lead of the 68th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.
 
Chris DiMarco, who played in the same group as Rose, aced the par-3 sixth and posted a round of 3-under-par 69. Jay Haas, who turned 50 this year but elected to stay on the PGA Tour rather than play the Champions Tour, also carded a 3-under 69.
 
There was a weather delay of nearly two hours Thursday as rain pelted the course at various points throughout the round. At 4:07 p.m. ET, play was suspended until the golfers returned to the course at 6:15.
 
Some players did not finish and need to complete their first rounds, so competitors will return to Augusta National at 8:00 a.m. The second-round tee times will not be affected.
 
Tiger Woods, a three-time champion of this event, seemed to struggle coming into this week's Masters and Thursday's opening round did nothing to change that.
 
He played in the penultimate group in the opening round and is 4 over par through 14 holes. Woods made the turn in 40, only the second time he played nine holes in that number at Augusta. The other time was 1997 when he went on to shatter most tournament records at the Masters.
 
Woods is in good company at that score as defending champion Mike Weir is plus-4 and will begin his day on Friday at the par-3 16th tee.
 
'I never felt comfortable,' said Weir. 'Tomorrow morning I have to try to hit it and find something.'
 
Scoring was not good on Thursday as the course played fast before the storms. Augusta did not change that much after the delay as only 13 players are under par.
 
Padraig Harrington, with two top-4 finishes in the last two starts on the PGA Tour, shot a 74. Vijay Singh, the 2000 winner of the green jacket, posted a 75 and John Daly lumbered to 78 on Thursday.
 
Phil Mickelson, widely considered a pre-tournament favorite to finally win a major title, double bogeyed the par-3 16th en route to an even-par 72.
 
For the second consecutive year, there was no honorary starter and the opening round of the 2004 season's first major was bittersweet.
 
Bruce Edwards, the longtime caddie of former Masters champion Tom Watson, died early Thursday morning at his home in Florida after a yearlong battle with ALS. He was 49 years old.
 
Watson received the news Thursday morning before his 8:44 a.m. tee time. He shot a 4-over-par 76 in the first round.
 
'He's not with us in body anymore but I can tell you he's with us in spirit,' said Watson, referring to his friend Edwards. 'He could make you laugh at the worst times. If you ever ran across him, you knew what a genuine person he was.'
 
Also on people's minds on Thursday was Arnold Palmer. The four-time champion is playing in his 50th Masters and announced that this will be the last time he tees it up in the tournament.
 
He finished with a 12-over-par 84.
 
'It was tough and I didn't play very well,' said Palmer, who may take over as an honorary starter next year. 'I understand it's time. It's time to sit back, watch and enjoy.'
 
With one Masters career winding down, another was just getting started.
 
Rose flew out of the gate quickly in the first round with a pair of birdies at his first two holes, including a 30-footer at the first. He birdied the ninth to make the turn at 3-under-par 33.
 
Rose found his first bit of trouble at the 11th, the lone hole that was changed this year thanks to 36 pine trees. He three-putted from 20 feet for bogey at the hole but rebounded at 13 when he blasted out of a bunker to four feet to set up birdie at the par-5 hole.
 
At the challenging closing holes at Augusta, Rose played more like a seasoned veteran, not a 23-year-old playing in his second Masters. At 17, Rose sank a four-footer for birdie, then holed an eight-footer at the last to polish off his 67.
 
'Obviously I had the dream start, going birdie-birdie gets you into the tournament right from the start,' said Rose. 'I crushed my drive on the first hole and felt really comfortable after that.'
 
Rose burst onto the golf scene in 1998 when he tied for fourth place at the British Open as an amateur. He turned professional the next day but struggled to make cuts, missing his first 17 in a row.
 
He broke into the winner's circle at the 2002 dunhill championship and added a second victory at the British Masters. Rose thinks all of the struggles assist him on the course.
 
'I was putting a lot of pressure on myself,' admitted Rose, who hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation on Thursday. 'I really felt like what I've been through has made it much easier and made me able to get through the finish line in a couple of tournaments.'
 
DiMarco made it through the first five holes with pars. At the sixth, DiMarco hit a 5-iron just short of the hole, then watched as the ball trickled in for the first ace at six since 1972 when Charles Coody recorded a hole-in-one.
 
'It was just a very perfect shot,' said DiMarco, who withdrew after a first-round 82 last year. 'It was one of my best hole-in-ones I've ever made. I can promise you that.'
 
He also birdied No. 15 to polish off his 69.
 
Haas, like Rose, broke out early Thursday with an 8-foot birdie putt at the first and a tap-in birdie at the par-5 second. He hit his approach 45 feet from the hole at the fifth and three-putted, missing an 8-footer for par.
 
The 50-year-old knocked a 9-iron to a foot to set up an easy birdie at No. 7. Haas hit his second into a bank right of the bunker at 13 and after his ball settled, he putted six feet short of the hole. Haas drained the birdie putt at the par-5 hole to join DiMarco at minus-3.
 
'I played extremely well, drove the ball well, hit a lot of good iron shots, made some nice putts,' said Haas. 'I think somebody 50 can (win). I just happen to be there.'
 
Darren Clarke, the first-round leader in 2003, and Chris Riley are tied at 2-under-par 70. Ernie Els bogeyed the 17th, the last hole he played on Thursday, to fall to 2 under. Alex Cejka is also 2 under with the 18th left to play.
 
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.