Rose near Masters lead but knows much golf remains

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Justin Rose isn’t making too much of his fast start Thursday at the Masters.

He’s been here before.

Rose was atop the leaderboard with a share of the first-round lead when he signed for a 5-under-par 67 in the middle of the afternoon. He led or shared the lead after the first round in 2004, ’07 and ’08. He couldn’t ride any of those fast starts to a victory, however, managing to convert just one of them into a top-10 finish.

“I've led this tournament early, and there's so much golf left that I don't think it's even worth paying attention to, to be honest with you,” Rose said.

If Rose, 34, is going to add a Masters title to his 2013 U.S. Open title, he knows he can’t get ahead of himself.

“So much can happen around this golf course,” Rose said. “By no means am I worried about going wire to wire, or anything like that. I think it's just about playing good, solid golf, executing my game plan and giving myself a chance on Sunday. A lot can happen.”

In ’04, Rose extended his first-round lead through the second round but ended up tying for 22nd.

In ’07, his first-round lead ended as a tie for fifth.

In ’08, it ended as a tie for 36th.

“There are so many shots out there, especially around Amen Corner, that can ruin a scorecard,” Rose said. “So, there's really no point in getting ahead of yourself. One thing I've learned on this golf course is that if you do make a bogey or two, when you start to chase around here, to make up for it, it's not always the best decision.”

Rose has won at least one PGA Tour title in each of the last five seasons but is looking for his first this year. He has yet to find his best form with three missed cuts in his last five starts and no top 10s this year. Rose complained of a sore wrist that he hurt in a fall after missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, but he says it’s feeling good now.

“People have been saying it's because of the wrist that I haven't been playing well,” Rose said. “That’s really not the case.”

Rose said he has “had to iron out a few kinks” in his game, including changing putters. His real aim now is taking the right attitude into the rest of the week.

“I think you've got to believe in yourself,” Rose said. “You've got to believe that you're a champion. I'm a major champion and won great tournaments.”