Justin Rose shot 65 for the second round in a row to become the first player in Transitions Championship history to achieve such a feat at Innisbrook’s Copperhead course. Rose posted 13-under, a stroke short of tying the tournament record, to take a one-shot lead over Brendon de Jonge and Webb Simpson going into the final round.
The Englishman started hot, rolling in five birdies in the first six holes. He stayed steady and made 11 straight pars before draining a six-footer on No. 18 to cap off the day.
For the four holes I followed him (Nos. 10-13), Rose kept it simple, just hitting fairways and greens. He had good looks, but his birdie attempts burned the edge. It looked relatively stress-free with tap-ins for pars.
“This is a golf course that it’s easy to be patient on,” Rose said. “If you hit in the middle of the green, you two-putt par, [and] you know you’re not being lapped by the rest of the field.”
Rose will be looking for his third PGA Tour victory tomorrow. He finally broke through last year with wins at the Memorial and the AT&T National, which takes away the added pressure of coming up short after such a promising amateur career.
“When you do deal with those questions, it makes getting into contention early in the week a very long week because obviously I’m aware of it and I know how to deal with it, but it doesn’t make it any easier,” said Rose.
“From that sense, it’s nice not to have to find that one off, and straight bat — cricket term.”
With a tightly bunched leaderboard, Rose still has some work left on Sunday, but he feels like he can draw from previous experiences to help him bring it home tomorrow.
“I think I’ve found a way of thinking that helped me out there, and I know the pitfalls of playing under pressure and playing in contention, so I know what my tendencies are,” he said.
“So I’ll be able to just check on those and it does not necessarily mean it’s all going to go smoothly tomorrow. You have to be ready for whatever happens, but at least I’m aware of the up-and-downs and the things I’m going to face.”
Looking at the stats, it’s no surprise Rose is atop the leaderboard – he’s ranked second in fairways, only missing six out of 39, and he’s first in greens in regulation, hitting 47 out of 54. If you hit enough greens, the putts have to start dropping at some point, right?
Rose feels like he’s been swinging well all year. He worked on some simple fixes, mainly posture, with Tiger’s swing instructor Sean Foley on Wednesday.
He’s been playing with a relaxed and free mindset this week and the challenge will be to keep that going coming down the stretch on Sunday.
“I’m just trying to be as good as I can be out there, see the shots, take on the shots that I like the look of and commit to them and accept what happens and not worry about stuff that I can’t control,” said Rose.
(AP Photo/Mike Carlson)