Rose, Hoffman among early leaders at Augusta

Augusta, GA ( – Justin Rose and Charley Hoffman both carded
5-under 67s on Thursday and share the early lead at the 79th Masters.

Rose is a six-time PGA Tour winner, with his biggest victory coming at the
2013 U.S. Open at Merion. He played alongside defending champion Bubba Watson,
who carded a 1-under 71.

Hoffman has three PGA Tour wins to his credit with a victory at the 2010
Deutsche Bank Championship being the best among them. Hoffman hit the first
tee shot of the tournament, and closed with an eagle on 15 followed by two
birdies in the last three holes.

Jordan Spieth, who has finished in the top-2 in his last three PGA Tour
starts, was 5-under through 10 holes to grab a share of the lead.

Russell Henley, who is playing in the Masters for the third straight year, is
one stroke off the lead at minus-4. Ernie Els was 4-under through 14 to join
Henley one shot off the lead.

Webb Simpson, who won the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic, posted a 3-under 69. He
was joined there by Bill Haas and Paul Casey, who closed with a bogey at the

Dustin Johnson rallied from some early struggles for a 2-under 70. He ended
alongside three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed and Par 3
contest winner Kevin Streelman.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy notched three birdies and two bogeys in an opening-
round 71. He dropped to plus-1 with a bogey at the 11th, but birdied 13 and 15
to get into red figures for the first time. He parred out to end there.

The reigning Open Champion and PGA Championship winner would complete the
career grand slam with a victory this week.

Bubba Watson and McIlroy were joined at minus-1 by Keegan Bradley and 65-year-
old Tom Watson. Adam Scott, the 2013 champion, posted a 72, while Ian Poulter,
Lee Westwood and Steve Stricker shot 73.

Rose was nine groups behind Hoffman and opened with a pair of pars. He soared
up the leaderboard with three birdies in a 4-hole span from third. After three
pars in a row, he traded a birdie at 10 for a bogey at 11, where he failed to
get up and down from left of the green.

At the par-5 13th, Rose 2-putted for birdie to move back to minus-4. He again
2-putted for birdie on the par-5 15th to grab a share of the lead. Rose holed
a clutch 8-foot par save the 16th. He parred the final two to share the lead
with Hoffman.

Hoffman birdied the second and third, but tripped to a bogey on the fourth. He
came right back with a birdie at the fifth. Hoffman parred five in a row from
the sixth.

The three-time PGA Tour winner 3-putted for bogey at the 11th to dip back to
minus-1. After three pars in a row, Hoffman flew up the leaderboard.

Hoffman drained an 8-foot eagle putt at the 15th to jump to 3-under. He
birdied the 16th and 18th, both from inside seven feet, to post 67.

NOTES: Rose has had a piece of the 18-hole lead at the Masters on three
previous occasions and his best finish was a tie for fifth in 2007 … Rose
has at least one top-5 finish in all four majors … Hoffman is playing just
his second Masters and his 15th major championship in all … He has made
seven cuts in his previous 14 majors, with a tie for 27th at the 2011 Masters
being his best finish.