Rose to bloom on day one

  • By: Ben Coley
  • Last Updated: April 10 2013, 14:49 BST

Ben Coley is backing Justin Rose to get off to a fast start in the Masters and makes him a first-round three-ball nap.

Justin Rose: Can win his opening three-ball
Justin Rose: Can win his opening three-ball

Justin Rose goes into the Masters as the third best player in the world according to the rankings, and the bookmakers make him the fourth most likely winner.

And, given the golf he's produced for the best part of two years now, it's hard to argue that he doesn't deserve his position in the market.

However, I'm not keen on taking what appears to be a short enough price in the outright book and I'd rather rely on him producing another fast start at Augusta.

Rose has played in the event just seven times, and on three occasions has held at least a share of the lead after round one. With that in mind, 20s about a repeat seems fair but I'm playing it safe and taking evens that he betters Brandt Snedeker and Ryo Ishikawa on Thursday.

Snedeker, of course, deserves huge respect.

Since winning last season's FedEx Cup, playing with credit throughout the Ryder Cup, and carrying that momentum through to the start of this season with victory at Pebble Beach, his Masters odds have tumbled.

Or at least they had, until a rib injury forced him out of action until the Arnold Palmer Invitational - an event where he missed the cut.

Excusable though that may be, it has to be a concern that he's subsequently failed to make the weekend in the Shell Houston Open, and his preparation has therefore been far from ideal.

His Augusta record is similarly solid to that of Rose and were he at 100 per cent then he and Rose would be priced identically, but that simply doesn't look to be the case given the strength of Rose's recent form.

Rose flew out of the traps on his last start at Bay Hill to lead after day one and so far this year his worst opening round is 68, which is quite remarkable despite a limited schedule.

Rose has to beat Ishikawa too, but the Japanese star has a best finish of 39th this season and that was in a low-quality event for the grade.

The Bashful Prince is yet to break 70 in 10 rounds at Augusta and opened with a round of 76 last year. He shouldn't be a factor in a three-ball that I'd expect Rose to win well.

Elsewhere, I think K.J. Choi should be favourite to beat Graeme McDowell and Zach Johnson and therefore am compelled to back him at 7/4.

The Korean has registered top-10 finishes in two of his last three visits to Augusta, despite on paper perhaps not looking an ideal fit for a course that favours those who work the ball from right to left.

Last week's sixth-placed finish in the Valero Texas Open sets him up perfectly for another solid week, and just like Rose he has a history of starting quickly here with two 67s in his last three opening rounds.

McDowell's form has been solid so far this season but he was a shade disappointing at Bay Hill last time, and so far Augusta hasn't been particularly kind with more cuts missed than made and a best finish of 12th.

That's not to say he can't or won't figure it out, though he has a way to go to match Choi's achievements at Augusta and I can't find any reason bar reputation that should make him a 5/4 jolly.

Johnson is of course respected as a former winner of the event although the downturn in his form since the Ryder Cup has been particularly eye-catching, and his course form outside of that famous victory is modest.

He's broken 70 just once in the first round all season and I think he'll struggle this week.

  • Preview posted at 1430 BST on 10/04/2013.