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Justin Rose fires 65 to open 4-stroke lead in Masters

Justin Rose first round 2021 Masters
England's Justin Rose hits his tee shot at the par-4 14th hole Thursday en route to a 7-under 65 and the 1st-round lead in the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.

After bogeys on 2 of his 1st 7 holes, Englishman rallies to post 7-under round as only 2 other players break 70 at Augusta National

Justin Rose shook off a slow start to post one of the most impressive opening rounds in Masters history.

The Englishman stood 2 over as he walked to the eighth tee at Augusta National Golf Club, but he played his final 11 holes in nine under to shoot 7-under 65 and open a four-stroke lead.

Rose holed a 10-foot eagle putt at the par-5 eighth, then birdied the par-4 ninth to jump-start his assault on the back side, where he posted a bogey-free 6-under 30 homeward nine.

Rose, 40, a 10-time PGA Tour champion, won the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion. He is searching for his first victory in more than two years.

Only two Englishmen have won the Masters: Danny Willett (2016) and three-time winner Nick Faldo (1989, 1990, 1996).

Georgia native Brian Harman, who was born and raised in Savannah, played college golf in Athens and resides in Sea Island, shared second place with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama at 3-under 69 (scores).

The left-handed Harman, 34, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, and Matsuyama, 29, a five-time winner in the U.S., are ranked 50th and 25th, respectively, in the Official World Golf Ranking. Each is looking for his first major championship and his first PGA Tour victory since 2017.

Harman birdied three of his final six holes, capped by a 3 on the par-4 18th, to set the early pace. His only blemish was a bogey at the par-4 ninth. This is only his third appearance at the Masters, in which his career-best result was a T-44 in 2018.

Matsuyama, buoyed by an eagle at the par-5 eighth, held the lead until a miscue for bogey at the par-4 17th and settled for a tie with Harman on a sunny, 80-degree day on a firm and fast course. Australia’s Marc Leishman made the turn at 3 under and shared the lead before he made bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11 to fade.

Americans Webb Simpson and Will Zalatoris were tied with South Africa's Christiaan Bezuidenhout at 70. Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters champion and an Augusta State alumnus, birdied Nos. 16 and 17 to claw his way into a share of the lead. He dropped into a tie for third when he failed to get up and down for par from behind the 18th green and signed for a 70.

Only 12 players broke par on a course where six months earlier, Dustin Johnson set the 72-hole scoring record of 20-under 268 en route to victory.

The day begin with the traditional honorary starters, former Masters champions Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, who hit the ceremonial opening tee shots. They were joined on the first tee by Lee Elder, who was the first Black golfer to compete in the Masters, in 1975. Among the players who attended the sunrise ceremony were former Masters champions Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson and Cameron Champ, one of only a handful of Black players on the PGA Tour.

Morning Read's Day 1 Coverage from the 2021 Masters:
Augusta National wins Round 1, by Gary Van Sickle
Don't crown Justin Rose just yet, by Alex Miceli
Rory shoots 76, drills father with errant shot, by Steve Harmon
CBS, ESPN play to each other's strengths, by John Hawkins
Round 1 Recap in Pictures
Round 2 Tee Times

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