Date: April 06, 2007

Aussies struggle at Augusta

Justin Rose may have made a dream return to the Masters but the Australian contingent has struggled to tame Augusta&aposs difficult conditions with Adam Scott finishing five strokes behind the leaders. Rose, though, holed a bunker shot, took just 20 putts and handed in the only bogey-free scorecard of the opening 18 holes. “It&aposs exciting to go bogey-free on any course on any day, but at Augusta when the scoring is pretty high makes me very happy, that&aposs for sure,” he said after his three-under-par 69. It needed a 15-foot birdie at the 17th for debutant Brett Wetterich to join him, while Howell, without a top-20 finish all season, made the only eagle of the day on the 530-yard 15th to be joint third with Wetterich&aposs Ryder Cup team-mate David Toms. Tiger Woods, chasing his third successive major and 13th in all, moved just two back with birdies at the 13th and 15th, but he had swing problems all day and they cost him two closing bogeys for “only” a 73. Earlier, defending champion Phil Mickelson matched his worst-ever round on the course – he even needed two late birdies for a 76 – and Ernie Els slumped to a 78, while Europeans Paul Casey (79), Padraig Harrington (77), Lee Westwood (79), Darren Clarke (83) and Seve Ballesteros (86) have never shot higher in the event. For the Australians, Houston Open winner Adam Scott produced the best score of the first round with a 74 to see him tied for 20th at two under, just one shot behind Woods. Scott&aposs effort was even more impressive considering the average score in round one was 76. However, the other Australians did not fare so well with Aaron Baddeley and Robert Allenby (both 79) already in danger of missing the cut. Just behind Scott are Stuart Appleby and Geoff Ogilvy who both shot 75 while Nick O&aposHern carded 76 to remain in contention just six shots behind the leaders. Rod Pampling (77), meanwhile, is a further stroke behind O&aposHern. US Masters first round -3: Justin Rose, Brett Wetterich 69 -2: David Howell, David Toms 70 -1: Tim Clark, Vaughan Taylor, Zach Johnson, Rich Beem, J.J. Henry 71 E: Davis Love III, Henrik Stenson, Bart Bryant, Tim Herron, Jeev Milkha Singh 72 1: Scott Verplank, Rory Sabbatini, Luke Donald, Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh 73 2: Aaron Oberholser, Adam Scott(AUS), Todd Hamilton, Craig Stadler, Lucas Glover, Fuzzy Zoeler, Trevor Immelman 74 also: 3: Stuart Appleby(AUS), Geoff Ogilvy(AUS), 75 4: Nick O&aposHern(AUS) 76 5: Rod Pampling(AUS) 77 7: Aaron Baddeley(AUS) Robert Allenby(AUS) 79