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Justin Rose feels like a rock star and shoots 66 at Spyglass

Justin Rose feels like a rock star and shoots 66 at Spyglass

On the pathway from every green to every tee at Spyglass Hill on Thursday, Justin Rose heard it.

"Justin! Justin! We love you Justin!"

Rose is a good-natured English bloke, winner of a U.S. Open. But rarely — OK, never — has he created squeals among a gallery of teenage girls and their mothers.

He still hasn't, but thanks to his rock-star golf partner in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, he now knows what that crazy adoration looks and sounds like.

Justin Timberlake — with 52 million Twitter followers to Rose's 481,000 — talked his golfer friend into breaking a long-standing routine of not playing much on the West Coast and entering the former Bing Crosby Clambake for the first time.

Once committed, Rose prepared himself to not look silly by whipping his head around at the sound of his first name.

"I was probably getting a 10-to-1 ratio to Justin," Rose gauged, rather optimistically. "Just depends on how you want to view them. I said earlier in the week that I was going to feed off that energy."

He did that wonderfully. In his first tour of demanding Spyglass, Rose holed out a bunker shot on the 10th for birdie and made a 50-foot birdie putt on the 18th in shooting a six-under-par 66 in the first round.

That effort matched J.B. Holmes for the best card at Spyglass, while journeyman Chez Reavie shot an eight-under 63 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club to take a two-shot lead. Cameron Smith and Bronson Burgoon shot 64s at MPCC, while Freddie Jacobson carded a seven-under 65 at Pebble Beach.

MPCC played 2.5 strokes easier than Spyglass and 2.7 softer than Pebble Beach. World No. 1 Jordan Spieth and No. 3 Jason Day each started with 71s at Spyglass, where Phil Mickelson shot a 68.

It was fairly remarkable for a player of Rose's stature — ranked seventh in the world with seven PGA Tour wins — to not have made his way to Pebble Beach before this. He even was injured and unable to play in the 2010 U.S. Open here.

Rose probably would not have come this year without Timberlake's urging. The two met at Lake Nona in Florida, got friendly, and when Timberlake asked Rose to be his partner, it was tough to say no to one of the world's most recognized entertainers.

There is a lot of that going around this week. The long rounds of the tournament scare some players away, and Clint Eastwood — part-owner of Pebble Beach who is closely tied to the tournament's charities — took the approach of having celebrities sway tour players to come.

Actor Mark Wahlberg, a member of L.A.'s Riviera Country Club, convinced Bubba Watson to play; reigning American League most valuable player Josh Donaldson coaxed Jason Dufner; and country singer Toby Keith bagged Steve Stricker. Watson had not played since 2007, Dufner since 2011 and Stricker since '06.

"This is for a friend," Watson said. "And I've got to get used to this new schedule. We've got to add tournaments [that they haven't played], and I added this to have fun and play it."

Watson was not looking particularly happy after a Spyglass round in which he made two double bogeys and shot one-over 73. He'd already scored the equivalent of a double eagle, though, in getting an actor with a tough-guy persona to go twinsies in matching outfits.

"If he can come play, at least I can do what he wants in wearing the gear," Wahlberg said. "I've got a list of what to wear and when to wear it."

Rose wore a shirt of light mint green, not nearly as flashy as Timberlake's dark green, jungle-themed polo. A serious golfer, Timberlake often found himself playing from the deep woods and plenty of beach, but he made a fine cheerleader for Rose.

When Rose holed the bunker shot at 10, Timberlake bowed and retrieved the ball from the hole. Rose birdied the next hole and Timberlake said loudly, "Man, did I pick the right horse!" The encore came at 18 when Rose fired a long putt that was going to blow well past the hole, but it hit the back of the cup and dropped in.

Showing rare showmanship, Rose dropped his putter, held out his arms, grinned brightly and attempted an awkward half-strut.

Timberlake shook his head in awe, a reversal of a couple of holes earlier, when a fan on the back of the 16th tee offered Timberlake an out-of-tune guitar and the star performed some lines from his song "Drink You Away" for no more than about 20 people.

Rose marveled, "That's obviously when you can really appreciate how someone can grab a guitar, go a cappella and sound so awesome. You see him not hit so many great shots, but then you realize, 'Ah, that's pretty damn special right there.' So we all have our skill set."

tod.leonard@sduniontribune.com

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on February 12, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Rose gets his game in sync at Spyglass - Englishman shoots 66 while playing with Timberlake. Reavie leads after a 63." — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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