Justin Rose sure likes the back nine at TPC River Highlands. After carding birdies on five of the last six holes in Thursday’s round to grab a share of the lead at the Travelers Championship, Rose, who started on the 10th, birdied five of his first six holes. He added three more birdies on the front nine to fire an eight-under 62 for a four-stroke lead over Kevin Sutherland.
Apparently Rose is keeping the momentum going after capturing his first PGA Tour win a few weeks ago at The Memorial. With a commanding 36-hole lead, he is poised to place very well again. Sometimes it just takes that one breakthrough win to jump-start things.
Has that helped relax the 29-year-old who burst out on the scene with so many lofty expectations eight years ago?
“It’s nice to not field the question, “Can this be your first win,” I must say,” Rose said. “That helps. Having done that, that’s one question that it’s just something less that I have to think about. Winning a tournament in its own right is difficult. So when you have the added expectation of it trying to be your first, that can be harder sometimes.”
But Rose has his sights set for something other than just another victory — a spot in the British Open.
He sat out last week’s US Open because he failed to qualify, which stirred up some controversy. While he’s not in the field yet for the British, he can qualify via Category 18. The top-two money leaders, not previously exempt, in six PGA Tour events — The Players Championship, Memorial Tournament, St. Jude Classic, U.S. Open, Travelers, and next week’s AT&T National — are awarded a place in the British Open.
Coming into the Travelers, Rose is first on this “mini” money list with $1,080,000 in earnings. Rickie Fowler is second and Davis Love III and Matt Kuchar are third and fourth, respectively. With Love and Kuchar sitting out this week, Rose is in prime position to gain more ground on his lead.
Could this week turn into a double win for Rose? So far, a trip to St. Andrews is looking good — as long as he keeps up his fine play over the weekend.
[Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images]