The Masters: Magnificent Rose storms into four-shot lead

By Sports Desk April 08, 2021

Justin Rose surged into a four-shot lead as Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau were among the big names to endure first-round struggles at The Masters.

Rose was two over through seven holes in tough scoring conditions, with quicker and firmer Augusta greens proving a much bigger challenge than when Dustin Johnson won the tournament with a record score of 20 under last November.

The Englishman sparked into life with an eagle at the par-five eighth hole and lit up the back nine to card a magnificent seven-under 65, the lowest Masters round of his career, with patrons allowed back in under blue skies.

Rose, eyeing a maiden Masters title, got on a roll with seven birdies in nine holes before finishing with a composed par to retain his four-stroke advantage.

Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama shared the early clubhouse lead with impressive three-under opening rounds of 69 before Rose stormed clear.

Defending champion Johnson shot a two-over 74 following a double bogey at the 18th, having made a bogey-birdie start before getting in the red for the first time at 13.

Masters debutant Will Zalatoris, Webb Simpson, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Patrick Reed will start their second rounds on two under following encouraging starts, while new father Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele are among a clutch of players at level par.

McIlroy suffered a miserable opening round and is back on four over, facing a battle to make the cut rather than fight it out to complete a career Grand Slam, while U.S. Open champion DeChambeau was four over through 15.

Jordan Spieth was left to rue a triple-bogey after launching a wayward tee shot into the trees at the ninth but was in a share of eighth on one under after chipping in for an eagle at 15, while Justin Thomas was a further stroke back through 15.

Brooks Koepka matched Johnson's 74 just a few weeks after undergoing knee surgery and the previously in-form Lee Westwood is languishing on six over.

Tommy Fleetwood generated a roar from those fortunate enough to be at the 16th to see him make a hole-in-one before he signed for a 74.

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    Steve Stricker has ruled out captaining the United States for a second time after the record 19-9 Ryder Cup victory over Europe at Whistling Straits.

    The USA dominated Europe, winning by the biggest margin in the competition's history to regain the trophy on Sunday.

    It was a dream three days for Stricker in his home state of Wisconsin as his side showed why they were such strong favourites.

    The USA will travel to the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome for the 2023 event, but Stricker says they will have a different captain.

    Asked about retaining the role, he said: "I don't think it's going to happen. It's mapped out and there's guys in positions to be the next captains.

    "It was an unbelievable experience, don't get me wrong; I'm glad it's over."

    Stricker paid tribute to his "special" team after such a phenomenal performance.

    He said: "It was a special week all the way around. I don't know what else to say, and I've said it a number of times all week long and how these guys came together, and how they started two weeks ago when they showed up for the practice round.

    "I could see the camaraderie then. I could see the willingness to prepare and get ready for this event prior to us even arriving. So a lot of these guys have played a lot of golf with each other. They have up with each other. It's a special group of guys."

    He added: "It was just putting them out there in a position. The assistant captains and I talked a bunch with Tiger [Woods] on there, as well. And they're just so talented. Their average world ranking is 8.9. That's unheard of. Out of 12 guys.

    "So it was really just getting out of their way; what I feel like. Let them go. Provide an atmosphere and camaraderie that they enjoyed and wanted to be a part of. And they all want to win, and it showed and they prepared for it.

    "It was a great bunch of guys, and I really had a great time and they deserve it."

  • Ryder Cup: Europe dethroned in record manner but Harrington can't fault players Ryder Cup: Europe dethroned in record manner but Harrington can't fault players

    Europe captain Padraig Harrington was upbeat despite his team's record Ryder Cup loss to the United States, insisting the visitors could walk away from Whistling Straits with their heads held high.

    Harrington's Team Europe were no match for hosts USA, dethroned following a record-breaking 19-9 defeat in Wisconsin on Sunday.

    USA claimed the Ryder Cup by a record margin, surpassing the previous 18.5 - 9.5 victory at Walton Heath Golf Club in 1981.

    Europe were outclassed from the outset and Steve Stricker's USA sealed victory in just the fifth match of the scheduled 12 singles showdowns on the final day.

    Team Europe had won seven of the past nine editions of the biennial event but failed to recover from a six-shot disadvantage heading into the final day as USA reigned supreme and despite the heavy defeat, Harrington could not fault his players.

    "I was not aware of it until it became close," Harrington said of USA's record-winning margin. "And then I did actually have to ask. I was involved in the last two that were records [grimacing] but on the right side of it.

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    "We don't owe anybody anything in that sense. They all tried. They all put it in. And you know, there will be more Ryder Cups ahead. Most of them – as I just said before, most of them have the best part of their career ahead of them, there's no doubt about that. So they shouldn't walk away from this in any shape or form feeling like, hey, they gave it 100 per cent. That's all you can ask from the players.

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    "That's just the reality of sport. If you put yourself out there, you'll have some miserable days, but also, if you put yourself out there, you'll have those thrilling days when you win."

     

  • Ryder Cup: Stricker hails 'special' Team USA after record-breaking victory Ryder Cup: Stricker hails 'special' Team USA after record-breaking victory

    Steve Stricker lauded Team USA's "special group" after the United States captain oversaw a record-breaking 19-9 win over Europe.

    USA claimed the Ryder Cup by a record margin on Sunday, surpassing the previous 18.5 to 9.5 victory at Walton Heath Golf Club in 1981.

    Stricker's USA were dominant from the outset in Wisconsin, where the hosts sealed victory in just the fifth match of the scheduled 12 singles, having required just 3.5 points for glory.

    After hoisting the cup aloft in front of a passionate crowd at Whistling Straits, Stricker hailed his team.

    "It was a special week all the way around," Stricker told reporters. "I don't know what else to say, and I've said it a number of times all week long and how these guys came together, and how they started two weeks ago when they showed up for the practice round.

    "I could see the camaraderie then. I could see the willingness to prepare and get ready for this event prior to us even arriving. So a lot of these guys have played a lot of golf with each other. They have up with each other.

    "It's a special group of guys. It was fun to be part of it all this week, especially here in Wisconsin."

    Europe had won seven of the past nine editions of the biennial team event but failed to recover from a six-shot disadvantage heading into the final day as USA reigned supreme.

    Stricker added: "This didn't start just two weeks ago. This started months ago. For me, three years ago two, and a half years ago. It's been on my mind ever since I was announced to be captain two and a half years ago.

    "I wanted to make a special week for these guys. I've been part of a few teams, and I know how it can go. I've been on a losing team and I've been on a winning side, team, and we just want these guys to enjoy the experience. And as you can tell up here right now, it looks like they have enjoyed the experience."

    Dustin Johnson led a star-studded United States with a 5-0 record throughout the Ryder Cup and Stricker continued: "I could see it in these guys' eyes last night when we left here, the course, after just saying a couple words, I could tell they felt like there was unfinished business, and they came out and they were ready today.

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