Heading to the 15th tee on Friday at the Dell Technologies Championship, Justin Rose was one off the lead held by four players at four under and needing just one birdie on a gettable closing stretch at TPC Boston.
The Englishman picked up three instead thanks to some stellar iron play, knocking approach shots on 15, 17 and 18 all within six feet and making each putt. His bogey-free six-under 65 gives him a two-shot lead.
From tee-to-green there was no one better than Rose on Friday, as he ranked first in that stroke-gained category and hit 15 of 18 greens. On his approach shots he gained 3.089 strokes on the field, which ranked third in the opening round. The round was his lowest since Saturday in the British Open at Carnoustie, and comes after a quiet recent stretch that included a withdrawal at the WGC-Bridgestone, a T-19 at the PGA Championship and a missed cut at The Northern Trust.
“I know how quick this game can change,” said Rose. “So I never think about a missed cut as anything more than what it was that particular week. Weirdly last week I felt comfortable with my game tee to green. I struggled on the greens with my speed and never got into seeing the lines. That was the problem last week.”
One off the lead are Russell Knox and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, whose five-under 65 was blemish-free. Knox made five birdies, an eagle and two bogeys.
Among a group at four under is Keegan Bradley, who is coming off a wild week in New Jersey that included a third-round 62 and a final-round 78 that dropped him into a tie for 34th. It’s a nice bounce back for the Vermont native, who is playing what amounts to a home game for him this week in New England. He’s tied with Beau Hossler, Gary Woodland and Chris Kirk, the latter the winner of this event in 2014.
Eight players fired three-under 68s, including world No.1 Dustin Johnson, who has finished T-17 or better in nine of his last 11 starts, two of those ending in victories. He’s joined by Australia’s Marc Leishman, Xander Schauffele and Webb Simpson, among others.
Queenslander Cameron Smith carded a two-under 69 to be T-16, alongside Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Ryder Cup hopeful Tony Finau.
New Zealand’s Danny Lee shot one-under 70 to be T-33. Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott are even while Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are at one-over par.
Jason Day carded a five-over 76, unable to make a single birdie and sits T-89.