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Rose warns Masters debutants
Stephen Gallacher, Victor Dubuisson and Joost Luiten will get their first taste of Masters action next week, but Justin Rose has warned they face a steep learning curve at Augusta National.
Roses’ warning to the three newcomers could prove accurate. Only three players have won the coveted Green Jacket on their debut at the Masters, those golfer’s being Horton Smith and Gene Sarazen – who did so in the first two years of the tournament – and Fuzzy Zoeller – who tasted the sweetness of victory in 1979.
Gallacher, Dubuisson and Luiten have a wealth of experience between them and each man can point to a string of good performances around the world. However Rose believes that simply playing all four rounds in the Masters will be an achievement worth cracking the champers open for.
"The learning curve at Augusta is steep, very steep," said the US Open champion, who has never finished outside the top 40 in his eight appearances at Augusta.
"I think the general rule is that if you make the cut the first time at Augusta, then that's a successful performance. Certainly that's how it was framed in my mind in 2003. I played with Adam Scott and Charles Howell, which was a great pairing.
"I'm not sure if that was their first Augusta or not [they both actually played in 2002], but we were all in a very similar mould, at similar ages and breaking through at that time. I think all three of us made the cut and I remember having to two-putt the ninth hole to make it on the number.
"I was on the wrong level and was putting down one of those ridges. It was an incredibly fast putt so I did my best to lag it, but still knocked it past and had a four-footer to make the cut, which I made. I still remember the feeling of relief now.
"Just playing at Augusta is an amazing experience for any first-timer, it's an amazing experience going for the 10th time, to be honest with you. It's one of the few tournaments where you play practice rounds even though you don't really need to.
"You already know the course and your strategy, but you can't resist getting out there on that golf course. It's a magical place and I can't wait to get back there."
Rose finished fifth behind Zach Johnson in 2007 – making a crucial double bogey on the 71st hole when just one off the lead – while Lee Westwood was second to Phil Mickelson in 2010 and joint third in 2012.
Naturally Rory McIlroy is favourite with the bookmakers to be pulling on the Green Jacket, with world number one Tiger Woods absent through injury. However, McIlroy is far from polished at the Masters, with the world number 2’s best finish at Augusta being his share of 15th in 2011 when he held a four-shot lead going into the final round before falling away and closing with 80.