Date: April 11, 2008

Lonard well placed

Australian veteran Peter Lonard carded an opening round of 71 to be well placed near the top of the leaderboard after the opening round of the US Masters. Lonard fired three birdies and two bogeys during his opening round to sit in a tie for 11th place, while compatriot Robert Allenby is one-shot further adrift after a 72. Ian Poulter holed-in-one and 50-year-old Sandy Lyle turned back the clock for a while, but yet again it was Justin Rose who led the European challenge when The Masters finished on the opening day. This on a day when Tiger Woods chipped in for an eagle, but had to settle for a level-par 72 in the first leg of his Grand Slam bid. Rose, also the first round pace-setter on his last two visits to the event and only one off the lead before a double bogey at the penultimate hole 12 months ago, posted a four-under-par 68. Last season&aposs European Tour number one shared top spot with South African Trevor Immelman, with whom he paid an advance trip to the course two weeks ago. Lee Westwood did not tee off until after 3pm after a delay for fog and birdies at the eighth, ninth, 11th and 13th lifted him to three-under and joint third with Americans Brandt Snedeker and Brian Bateman. It was a remarkable effort from 27-year-old Rose given that he was two over after five. Four birdies in a row and six in the next eight holes turned his day around and dinner tasted all the better after he got up and down from a bunker for par on the last. Rose finished 22nd in 2004 after a third round 81 and a year ago ended up fifth. “At the age of 27 you begin to say you can&apost keep putting it down to experience,” he commented. “You say &aposthis is the time to step up&apos if you like.” “But I&aposm not putting too much pressure on myself. Hopefully I&aposve got a good 10-15 years ahead of me.” “It&aposs always special coming here and that extra adrenaline and nerves brought out the best in me.” “After the start I stayed patient. You have to remember how far there is to go.” A seven-iron to five feet ignited the turnaround. He made a 15-footer on the next, two-putted the uphill 570-yard eighth and converted a 20-foot chance at the ninth. An eight-iron to four feet three holes later brought him another birdie, as did a pitch to three feet on the 13th. Lyle, 20 years to the day since he grabbed the first of four successive British wins, was only a stroke behind until bogeying the 15th, 16th and 18th. “I played some pretty tidy golf and can&apost really complain,” said the Scot, whose son caddied for him. “I&aposm disappointed obviously with the finish, but I&aposm hitting the ball the way I want to and it does help to have that little bit of knowledge.” “I often look at younger ones taking on certain shots and think to myself – you&aposll learn!” Poulter, desperate to make his presence felt at the event, did it in sensational style when his ace at the 170-yard 16th took him into the lead at the time. The former Ryder Cup man, mocked for stating earlier this year that when he fulfils his potential &aposit will be just me and Tiger&apos, became the 11th player in the tournament&aposs history to hole-in-one there. He said the eight-iron shot and the crowd&aposs reaction made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. “It was an unbelievable buzz at the 16th. To hole it you need a little bit of luck, but I flushed it,” Poulter said. “There was an instant adrenaline rush – probably the biggest I&aposve had.” Woods started with 12 pars in a row and then looked set to birdie or even eagle the 510-yard 13th when his four-iron second was in the air. But it skipped through the green into what he called &aposthe worst spot you could put it&apos. His chip failed to make the green, he took a bogey six, dropped another on the next after a wild drive, but then chipped in from just over the 15th green. The world number one said: “I didn&apost really get anything going. I hit the ball really well and the putts really well, but nothing really went.” “You don&apost really shoot low rounds here any more, though. You just plod along – it&aposs playing more like a US Open.” “I only heard one roar and that was for Poulter&aposs eagle. Other than that it was quiet.” Of the Australian&aposs, Nick O&aposHern fired a 74 to be tied for 44th, Geoff Ogilvy, Aaron Baddeley and Adam Scott carded 75&aposs, Stuart Appleby shot a 76, Richard Green a 77, while John Senden struggled to an opening round of 80.