AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Justin Rose conjured up a round that would have made his boyhood idol Seve Ballesteros proud and earned a share of the first round clubhouse lead at the Masters on Thursday.
On a day when the two-time Masters champion from Spain would have turned 58, Rose emerged from a mini slump to card a five-under-par 67 at Augusta National.
Ballesteros, who inspired a generation of European golfers, died in 2011 of a brain tumor.
Englishman Rose, 34, recalled the encouragement he received from Ballesteros during his Masters debut in 2003.
”I remember Seve coming up to me and putting his arm around me, just giving me an encouraging couple minutes of pep talk,” Rose told reporters. “He was always very good to me out on tour (and) sort of a hero of mine growing up.”
Rose arrived in Augusta seemingly out-of-form, but he warned not to read too much into his recent disappointing results.
“I‘m a major champion and won great tournaments. I knew my game was there; it just had not shown up yet,” said the 2013 U.S. Open champion, who has never missed a cut in nine Masters appearances.
”I didn’t have a ton of form but it doesn’t surprise me.
“I wasn’t that happy with where my swing was at about a month ago ... but when you have a little bit of a struggle, it forces you to make a decision to work a little bit harder, and that’s what I’ve done about the last month.”
Not that Rose is reading too much into one round, not with 54 holes remaining, and almost every one of them potentially the scene of disaster.
”So much can happen around this golf course, and by no means am I worried about going wire‑to‑wire or anything like that,” he continued.
“There are so many shots out there, especially around Amen Corner, that can ruin a scorecard, so there’s really no point in getting ahead of yourself.”
Editing by Frank Pingue