England’s Rose and Casey lead the home chargeApril, 2015
Rose three off the lead at Augusta
Justin Rose has led the Masters at some point in every round and he began the brightest of the home-based challengers with a 67 on day one.
It has been 19 years since a British or Irish player has slipped into the Green Jacket and Rose carded six birdies, including one at the 10th, to finish the first round three adrift of Jordan Spieth.
For the 2013 US Open champion it was a case of the tried-and-tested approach that we hear so much about these days, that of patience.
“There’s so many shots out there, especially around Amen Corner, that can ruin a scorecard. So there’s really no point in getting ahead of yourself.”
Rose dropped his only shot at the tricky 11th.
“One thing I’ve learned 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.
“I’ve definitely learned the hard way a couple of times, which was obviously a good experience.”
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Paul Casey missed the last two Masters – his best finish came as long ago as 2004 when he was sixth – and his only blip came at the last when he overshot the green in an opening 69, two better than the favourite and World No.1 Rory McIlroy.
The 25-year-old, looking to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in winning all four major titles, made a mess of a handful of chips but birdies on the back-nine par 5s kept his tilt on track.
“I just wanted to get going and once I got the first hole out of the way I felt I could relax,” he said. “It was not quite what I wanted off the second tee (McIlroy hooked his drive into a ditch) but made a great five which was important.
“It was a tricky day, the wind was swirling and anything under par was a pretty good score. It was a round that could have got away from me. I just stayed patient, realising it’s a 72-hole tournament and not having to press too much. It’s good to get into red numbers.
“I obviously know what I can achieve this week but I am not letting myself think about it too much. Today was pretty good and I feel I can do better.”
Otherwise Danny Willett, Stephen Gallacher and Graeme McDowell also finished in red numbers – Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood both shot 73 – but Luke Donald has work to do after dropping five shot in his 75.
For Willett the draw had a hand in helping him to settle on his Augusta debut.
“It really helped playing with Larry Mize. He won it in 1987 which is the year I was born so we were having a bit of a joke down the first. He was brilliant all day and kept trying to egg me on. He helped settle the nerves quite quickly.
“The first tee was awesome and second off there were already 20 or 30,000 people round the golf course. Every shot you hit and every tee you walked on you’re getting clapped on to. It was really special.”
The highlight of Willett’s round came at the 13th where he holed a ridiculous putt of 60 feet.
“It’s the kind of thing you dream of when you’re a kid, boxing a long one across the green.
“Anywhere on that green you know it’s going to be a stupidly breaking putt, but the ball is up somewhere near your kneecaps when you are hitting the second shot so it’s always hard to hit a fade into a back right flag. It had 18 feet of break, it comes almost backwards.”