Rose blooms, Tiger fumes at Masters
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Justin Rose sparkled. Tiger Woods fumed. Tom Watson mourned.
Rose grabbed the early lead at the Masters with an opening-round 67 Thursday, making birdies on the first two holes and finishing the same way.
Not surprising at all to the 23-year-old British golfer.
"I have been hitting the ball really well and not necessarily getting good scores," Rose said. "So in a way, yeah, it has been coming."
Woods teed off in the afternoon, but his quest for a fourth green jacket got off to a sluggish start.
His first shot missed the fairway to the left, leading to a bogey. Things got worse at No. 5, where he flew an approach shot over the green -- prompting him to swat his club in an angry outburst. He wound up taking double-bogey.
Woods made the turn with a 4-over 40 -- the same score he had in 1997, when he went on to capture his first Masters by a record-setting 12 strokes.
This time, he didn't get a chance to turn things around right away. After a day of extremes -- drizzle in the morning, sunshine at midday, heavy rain in the afternoon -- play was finally suspended with thunderstorms approaching.
Watson teed off after learning that his longtime caddie, Bruce Edwards, died early Thursday following a yearlong battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.
At last year's U.S. Open, Edwards was on the bag for Watson's magical opening round, when he shared the lead after shooting 65.
Watson struggled to a 76 at Augusta National, his mind on Edwards all the way around the course.
"Bruce was with me today," said Watson, a tear streaming down his left cheek.
Arnold Palmer shot 84, but savored every moment of his next-to-last Masters round. The 74-year-old King is stepping aside after 50 years and four Augusta victories, the end expected Friday when he'll miss the cut for the 21st straight year.
"I was a little embarrassed by my score, but I won't have to worry about it much longer," Palmer said. "It'll be done tomorrow, but I'll never say it wasn't fun."
This is a game for youngsters.
Rose, who burst on the scene as an amateur with a fourth-place finish at the 1998 British Open, closed his round with a 12-footer for birdie at 18 -- one of the toughest finishing holes in golf.
He squandered a chance to go even lower, missing 10-footers at 15 and 16. But there were no complaints with a 5-under score.
"It's a dream start," Rose said. "Just to get off to a birdie-birdie start, it gets you into the tournament from the word go. It makes your day much, much easier."
Chris DiMarco was two strokes back after the best shot of the morning -- a hole-in-one at 6. He teed off with a 5-iron from the hill high above the hole, watched the ball land just short of the cup and trickle in, 198 yards away.
"I hit one of those shots that was just perfect," said DiMarco, who shot 69. "It was one of the best holes-in-one I've ever made, I can promise you that."
Last year, DiMarco got off to a miserable start, shooting an 82 in the rain-plagued opening round. He dropped out without completing the second round.
DiMarco usually plays well at Augusta National, though. He was leading at the midway point of his first Masters in 2001, finishing in a tie for 10th. The following year, he tied for 12th.
Jay Haas, playing some of the best golf of his career at age 50, also posted a 69 -- his round marred by a single bogey at 5.
"I'm doing a lot of good things," Haas said. "I think I'm more noticeable now because I am 50."
Darren Clarke was three strokes behind Rose after shooting 70. Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer posted 71s.
Another member of the 50-and-over club, Ben Crenshaw, turned back the clock by going 3-under through 10 holes. Unlike Haas, the 52-year-old Texan couldn't keep it together -- his last eight holes included three bogeys and a double-bogey at 18.
"What a finish -- a bad finish," said Crenshaw, a two-time Masters champion who hasn't made the cut since 1997. He's in trouble again with a 74.
Former winners Tommy Aaron, Charles Coody and Sandy Lyle teed off at 8 a.m. to get the tournament started. The weather didn't look promising at first -- clouds hovered over the course and it began drizzling about 90 minutes after play began.
The sun finally broke through early in the afternoon, but it didn't last. The rain returned -- much heavier this time, and accompanied by thunder and lightning. Play was finally halted at 4:09 p.m.
At least they got in plenty of golf before the storms moved in. Last year, the opening round was rained out for the first time since 1939.