AUGUSTA, Ga. – It wasn’t a classic motivational speech, but Justin Rose needed it.
“Buddy, I don’t know if you’re close or not, but I just know it’s better,” Rose’s swing coach Sean Foley, with whom he recently reunited, told him before Thursday’s opening round at the Masters.
On Thursday at the Masters, Rose and his momentum were better than any other with four moves, while the Englishman burned the other nine for the first round of 65 and the lowest result in 16 trips to the first major championship of the year. The round was even more impressive given that Rose played his first seven holes in 2 over a pair before passing 9 below his last 11 holes.
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“If you had told me I was walking down the eighth hole that I was going to shoot 65, I wouldn’t have said there was no chance, this course plays a little too ticklish for that,” Rose said. “But it’s unbelievable. It’s a good reminder that you just never know what might happen there, just to stick to it on the golf course. “
Rose’s 65 was nearly 10 shots better than the field average on the first day (74.54) and raised him to at least part of the first round of the Masters for the fourth time in his career. Only Jack Nicklaus, the six-time Masters champion, held at least part of the advantage in the first round on four occasions.
Rose hasn’t played the PGA Tour in over a month. He planned to play Arnold Palmer Invitational, but retired with a back injury that also prevented him from playing in the championship.
“It was boring timing, really, having to retire from the weekend from the tournament and not being able to make tea for Thursday players,” he said. “It could have been seven days at other times of the season and it could have been an event.”
Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, has three top-5 finals in his career at the Masters, including a 2017 playoff defeat by Sergio Garcia.