World No.1 Justin Rose makes surprise exit from Masters after finishing at four-over-par for the first two rounds at Augusta National
If you had asked anyone about who they would tip to do well this week, Justin Rose would have been a name floated around with confidence as a man to back.
It was an easy prediction: The World No.1 had posted back to back top 10s at the Players and WGC-Dell Match Play, and counted two runner-up finishes and no worse than T14 in his last five Masters starts. Adding to that, his regular caddie Mark 'Fooch' Fulcher had made his return to the bag after recovering from heart surgery, and Rose was sure his experience would help over the weekend.
If there were any doubts at all, it was that only three players have ever claimed a green jacket while being ranked as No.1 in the world: Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, and Ian Woosnam. It was a stat Rose was aware of, but refused to entertain as he said his form was good and his confidence was up heading to a course that suits his eye.
"Confidence is up there for sure," Rose had said on Monday of Masters week. "I feel like I've had a decent year so far.
"Guys talk about a course that fits their eye and I think this is one for me that I like all the shots out there."
But form and experience proved itself to mean absolutely nothing at Augusta National, and Justin Rose was one of twenty players to miss the cut after rounds of 75 and 73.
The major champion really grappled with his driver off the tee, hitting just five of 14 fairways during his first round and seven of 14 in round two.
Those struggles began on the fifth hole of round 1 with a wayward drive, and he walked off with a bogey. He dropped another shot on seven and two more on the eighth and ninth holes after driving it in to the trees to make the turn in five-over. He would add two birdies and another bogey over the back nine, signing for a three-over 75.
Things looked to be turning themselves around on Friday morning as he posted back to back birdies, but mistakes on three and five soon had him back to where he started.
On the 11th Rose was unfortunate as he found the green with his second but his ball rolled back in to the water, and he dropped back to four-over-par.
But momentum looked to have shifted as Rose made birdie on 12 and moved ever closer to par thanks to an eagle at the next, but it was not to last as he found the water on 15 for a bogey and added two more dropped shots on his last two holes of the day.
And he wasn't the only unexpected player to make an early exit from the first major of the year.
Paul Casey, who had exceptional Masters form (T6-T4-T6-T15 in his last four starts) and a recent win at the Valspar to his form, was another surprise. He carded his worst ever major round on Thursday (a nine-over 81), and added a one-over 73 to end up at 10-over-par.
Recent past champions Sergio Garcia and Danny Willet also finished at four-over, while Par-3 champion and Masters rookie Matt Wallace proved the curse was alive and well after rounds of 75 and 77.