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Rose and Wetterich lead Masters; Woods four back

Rose and Wetterich lead Masters; Woods four back

Rose and Wetterich lead Masters; Woods four back
April 5th, 2007

Augusta, GA (Sports Network) - Justin Rose and Brett Wetterich are tied atop the leaderboard at three-under-par 69 Thursday after the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.

Tiger Woods, the winner of the last two major championships and a four-time Masters champion, bogeyed his last two holes for a one-over-par 73. He is tied for 15th place and has yet to break 70 in the opening round of the Masters.

"I just threw away a good round of golf, absolutely threw it away," acknowledged Woods. "The last two holes, I'm right there at one-under par, and I go bogey-bogey."

Phil Mickelson, who donned the green jacket last year and in 2004, shot a four-over-par 76 and is tied for 43rd place, but not completely out of the tournament.

"I don't feel I've driven myself out of it as even par is going to be in the hunt tomorrow," said Mickelson. "If I get out and shoot a 68, I'll be right back in it."

Woods is certainly still in it, but had countless birdie opportunities on the front nine, none of which he converted. At the par-four seventh, Woods drove into the pine straw on the right. He only advanced his ball down the tree line and could not save par.

The four-time Masters champion had ample birdie chances and never really threatened bogey, except for a six-footer at the 10th that Woods handled to save par.

He tallied his first birdie of the round at the par-five 13th. Woods laid up with his second, but knocked his third to four feet and handled the birdie putt.

Woods took advantage of the next par-five, No. 15, as his second ran 30 feet right of the hole. He nearly made the eagle putt, but settled for birdie and found himself one-under par.

He dropped a shot on 17 when his drive missed the short grass and his third ran through the putting surface. Woods again could not find the fairway off the tee at 18 and took another bogey.

"It was tough, really tough," said Woods, celebrating the 10-year anniversary of his historic 1997 Masters breakthrough. "You had to hang in there as best you can."

Swirling winds and unseasonably cool temperatures greeted the players at Augusta National. It has been very dry in the area as well, so the course played tough on Thursday and no one felt it as much as the defending champion.

Mickelson bogeyed one after an errant tee shot, then got the stroke back with a birdie at three. He dropped a shot at four, then lost two strokes when he whiffed a chip at five.

The two-time winner bogeyed six and seven and before he even came near "Amen Corner," he was five-over par through seven.

"My goal was to shoot under par after being five-over after seven. So I made a mini-goal from that point," acknowledged Mickelson. "There are birdies out there today."

Mickelson birdied the eighth, but bogeyed 12 and 14. At the par-five 15th, Mickelson recorded his third birdie and followed it up with a birdie at No. 16.

David Howell used an eagle on the par-five 15th to shoot a two-under-par 70. He was joined in a tie for third place with 2001 PGA Champion David Toms, who got up and down for par from a bunker at 18.

Last year's runner-up Tim Clark, American Ryder Cup rookies Vaughn Taylor, Zach Johnson and J.J. Henry and 2002 PGA Champion Rich Beem are knotted in fifth place at one-under-par 71.

They are looking up at one player in Rose, who has battled a back injury, and another in Wetterich, who is making his Masters debut.

Rose birdied the par-four third hole, then appeared to be in trouble at the par-four fifth when his approach landed in a greenside bunker. The Englishman holed out from the bunker for another birdie and found himself in the lead at minus-two.

Rose played smart golf from there and made eight consecutive pars around the turn. At the par-four 14th, Rose landed his approach on the fringe, but sank the 12-footer for another birdie and sole possession of the lead.

From there, it was a test of survival.

At the par-five 15th, Rose had 12 feet for birdie, but his putt caught the lip and ran six feet past. He converted the par putt and got up and down for par from off the green at 16.

He missed the green at 17, but was also able to save par. Rose found a greenside bunker with his second at the closing hole, but blasted out to five feet. Rose drained the par putt to preserve a bogey-free round that only featured five greens in regulation, but an eye-opening 20 putts.

"Sometimes statistics don't always tell the story," said Rose. "On more than one occasion, I felt like I was 10 or 12 feet from the pin putting for birdie, but on the fringe, in the case of a couple of two putts or a one putt that goes down as a zero putt."

Rose held the 18- and 36-hole leads at the 2004 Masters only to implode with a third-round 81. He tied for 22nd place that year, but took valuable lessons from the experience.

"I learned a lot about the golf course that particular day, and I learned a lot about how you've got to really pace yourself during the week," he said. "You've got to try to find ways to fill your day up until your tee time to occupy yourself."

Wetterich bogeyed the par-five second, but calmed down thanks to a pair of late birdies on his front nine at the seventh and ninth.

At the par-four 10th, Wetterich drained a long birdie putt to reach two-under par for the championship. He joined Rose in the lead at the 13th when his third stopped five feet from the stick and he holed the birdie putt.

Wetterich knocked his third over the green at the par-five 15th, but hit a nice fourth to four feet. His par putt caught the left side of the cup, but spun out. Wetterich made a nice four-footer just to save bogey.

He drove into the first cut on the right at 17, but hit a great approach 15 feet short. Wetterich made the birdie putt, got up and down for par at 18 and shares the opening-round lead.

"Teeing off I felt the nerves a little bit," admitted Wetterich, who finished second to Woods last month at the WGC-CA Championship. "It was nice to come out here today and shoot a good round."

Davis Love III, Accenture Match Play Champion Henrik Stenson, Bart Bryant, Tim Herron and Jeev Milkha Singh share 10th place at even-par 72.

Mickelson was not the only big-name player to struggle on Thursday. Sergio Garcia (76), Retief Goosen (76), Padraig Harrington (77), Ernie Els (78) and Paul Casey (79) all played poorly in the opening round and will need to turn it on to make the 36-hole cut.

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