US Masters: Rose Ready to Blossom

One shot off the lead, two holes to play. Justin Rose was that close to possibly winning the Masters last year. Deep breath in, summon up the courage, find the inspiration and a title he had dreamt of all his golfing life could be his at just 26 years of age. It might be only six strokes away.


“Until you actually are in the moment, there with a chance to win on Sunday, you don't quite know how you're going to react,” said Rose.

“I actually surprised myself at how much I was able to enjoy the moment, how calm I felt and how confident I felt and how much belief I had, I suppose.

“I think only when you're really in that moment do you actually find out what you're made of.”

Sadly for Rose, that feeling did not translate into victory. Birdie, birdie was the dream scenario, but reality was double-bogey, par.

The green jacket went instead to Zach Johnson and Britain's main hope exited the stage in fifth place. He had played his part, but in the end it was just a supporting role and, unlike the Oscars, there was no trophy to receive, no speech to make for that.

What Rose will be reminding himself as he prepares for his return, though, is not how disappointing it was that the main prize got away from him because of one bad drive down the 17th - he did not even think it was that bad when he struck it - but how well he did to get as near as that.

Joint second with Tiger Woods with a round to play, just a stroke behind Stuart Appleby, the last thing he wanted was to lose touch early on. But it happened.

Rose double-bogeyed the first and after a birdie on the long second double-bogeyed again at the next, then dropped another stroke on the short fourth. From three over par he slumped to seven over and was five off the lead.

On his previous visit to Augusta in 2004 Rose had led at halfway and then crashed to an 81. A repeat of that and serious doubts would have been raised about his ability to turn talent into titles.

But this time he hit back. Birdies came on the eighth, ninth, 11th - the hardest hole on the course - 15th and 16th. Suddenly he had only Johnson ahead of him and although that was as good as it got he took great heart from what he had just done.

The Masters - Augusta National - Latest Facts

 - Gary Player will create a record the moment he tees off at Augusta - it will be his 51st Masters, one more than Arnold Palmer. The 72-year-old South African, winner in 1961, 1974 and 1978, made his debut in 1957 and has missed only the 1973 tournament since then. His 15 top 10 finishes - the last of them in 1980 - are seven fewer than Jack Nicklaus.

- There have been changes to four holes since last year’s Masters. The first tee has been extended by 10 yards at the front in case there is a strong wind into the players’ faces again, while on the seventh the green has been enlarged to the left to accommodate more pin placings. At the ninth the severity of the green has been eased somewhat and on the 11th some trees down the right have been removed. Not because Tiger Woods broke a club on one of them in last year’s final round, Augusta National say, but because it gives spectators a better view. Anyone straying into the trees on the 15th and 17th could also find themselves playing off pine straw rather than grass.

- There are 18 different ways to qualify for the Masters, but three Asian players - Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng, Indian Jeev Milkha Singh and China’s Liang Wen-chong - have received special invitations from the Augusta National Club. “This is also another component in our objective of growing the game of golf worldwide utilising the Masters brand,” said club chairman Billy Payne. “We think the interest in golf in each country will heighten when these players compete in the Masters.”

- There will be no British amateur taking part in the Masters this year - and no American amateur champion playing with holder Zach Johnson in the first two rounds either. The British Amateur title was taken last year by American Drew Weaver, who dedicated his victory to 32 fellow students at Virginia Tech killed last April by Korean gunman Seung-Hui Cho. Weaver was on the campus at the time and ran for his life.

- European Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo will again content himself with a commentating rather than playing role at Augusta this year. Three-time champion Faldo is exempt for life, but sat out the event last spring for the first time since 1987. He did play in the Open at Carnoustie, however, and has another 10 years of that exemption.

Tournament Timetable

Monday, April 7 - Tuesday, April 8 2008
Practice Round

Wednesday, April 9 2008
Practice Round
Par 3 Contest

Thursday, April 10 2008
Competitive Round

Friday, April 11 2008
Competitive Round

Saturday, April 12 2008
Competitive Round

Sunday, April 13 2008
Final Competitive Round

Source: PGA


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