Sunday 4 December 2016

Change to 'claw grip' pays off for Justin Rose in opening day at the Masters

Phil Casey

Published 07/04/2016 | 22:36

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Justin Rose of England holds up his ball after putting for par on the 18th green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Justin Rose of England holds up his ball after putting for par on the 18th green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Former US Open champion Justin Rose gambled with a change of technique and was rewarded with an opening 69 in the 80th Masters at Augusta National.

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After admitting he had lacked any "fireworks" so far this season, Rose switched to a "claw" putting group for the first time and recorded six birdies and three bogeys to finish alongside fellow Englishman Paul Casey on three under par.

Rose, who finished joint second last year with a 14-under-par total which has only been bettered six times in tournament history, said: "The putting grip was a big change for me.

"I have adopted the claw grip which is becoming more popular on Tour. I stumbled across it last week on my week off and it just felt too good to deny it. I second-guessed it a few times last week but it stayed true and I putted well today.

"It wasn't a decision I took lightly. I have putted okay this year but I feel if I am going to win the Masters I am going to have to putt great. I just felt in practice that it could benefit me. It was a gamble but I felt it was one worth taking."

Defending champion Jordan Spieth had set the early clubhouse target with a 66 despite the blustery conditions and Rose added: "I am surprised there were so many good scores today and I really didn't see six under out there but Jordan has started where he left off - a bogey-free 66 today was very impressive.

"The forecast is similar for the next couple of days so it was nice to get a decent round when the course was somewhat softer because it's going to be really tough over the next few days.

"A good start is a bonus - it's a bad start that you don't want. Even if your game isn't clicking at a major, if you can get it round in around even par on the first day then you can have something to build on. To shoot in the 60s in the first round of the Masters is always a good start."

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