1 of 5 | Justin Rose (L) shakes hands with his caddie, David Clark, on the 18th green after finishing at 7-under par in the first round of the 2021 Masters Tournament on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
April 8 (UPI) -- Justin Rose sank seven birdies and an eagle over a torrid 10-hole stretch to grab a four-shot lead after the first round of the Masters Tournament on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
The 40-year-old Rose carded a 7-under 65 for his lowest score at Augusta in one of the course's toughest opening rounds. Only 12 players broke par, and the average score was 74 1/2.
In November's Masters, 53 players were under par after the first round.
"Listen, I didn't know where my game was going into this week," said Rose, who was playing for the first time in a month due to a back ailment. "I've been working hard. I could have played the last two tournaments, but I was really trying to prepare hard for this Masters."
Rose opened with a bogey on the first hole and added another on the seventh to start his day 2-over par. The Englishman eventually locked in and made an eagle on No. 8, followed by back-to-back birdies on Nos. 9 and 10.
After settling for par on the 11th hole, he carded birdies on five of his last seven holes.
"You can't win the golf tournament today. Even with a 65 you can't win it today," Rose said. "You can only probably lose it today, obviously. I reset just prior to that and thought if I can get myself back around even par, that would be a good day's work."
Brian Harman, who was the last player to enter the 88-man field, and Hideki Matsuyama sat behind Rose after shooting 3-under 69s in the opening round. Former Masters champion Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson were among the four-man group at 70 and tied for fourth.
Jordan Spieth overcame a triple bogey on hole No. 9 for a 1-under 71. Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa each ended the day 1-over par, while 2020 Masters winner Dustin Johnson finished 2-over.
Former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, needing a green jacket to complete the career Grand Slam, accidentally struck his father with his approach shot on the seventh hole. That was the most interesting highlight in his round of 76.
Meanwhile, Tommy Fleetwood provided the best shot of the first round with his ace on the famed par-3 16th hole. His hole-in-one was the 32nd in Masters history, and the 23rd on No. 16, which has seen the most aces of any hole on the course.
Despite the historic 170-yard shot, the 30-year-old Fleetwood finished the opening round at 2-over par. Prior to the ace, he bogeyed the second, fourth, sixth and 11th holes.
The second round of the Masters is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. EDT Friday.
Last year's Masters champion, Dustin Johnson (L), bumps fists with 2021 champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan after the final round of the 2021 Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., on Sunday. Matsuyama won his first major at10 under par. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo