There are plenty of smooth swingers on the US PGA Tour, but maybe no one has a better rhythmic move at the ball than Justin Rose, who found himself lurking at the Fort Worth Invitational after an opening-round 66. On Friday at Colonial, the Englishman went even lower, cruising to a six-under 64 to grab a one-shot lead heading to the weekend.
Finding that smooth tempo as he begins his US Open prep has been key.
“I did a lot of good things today,” said Rose. “I think the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point.”
Through two rounds Rose leads the field for greens in regulation, hitting 30 of 36 and collecting 12 birdies along the way, including seven on Friday. Even with all the circles on the card, he felt he could have had more, and he may be right considering he also leads the field in total strokes-gained, as well as strokes-gained/tee-to-green and approach-the-green.
“Actually, I left a few out there on the greens early but didn’t get frustrated. Fulch [Rose’s caddie Mark Fulcher] just said, Hey, mate, just kind of stay patient. That was great advice because I made a little 8, 10-footer which took the lid off the hole, my fifth hole of the day.
“From there got into a nice rhythm really. Yeah, the way I played through – I guess through my first 15 holes today was about as good as I’ve played in a long time.”
He’s got a point there too, as he hasn’t registered a top 10 since mid-March. That’s not to say he hasn’t had a strong campaign so far, one that includes a win at the WGC-HSBC Champions and three finishes inside the top eight. But Friday’s round is his best of the year, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I feel like if I didn’t play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the US Open,” he said. “I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.
“So rather than the venue, it was more the timing, but obviously it’s just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this. All aspects of my game are showing signs for sure.”
One back of Rose at nine-under 131 is Emiliano Grillo, who backed up his first-round 64 with an action-packed three-under 67 that featured six birdies and three bogeys. The 2016 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year has now made 15 of 16 cuts this season, and a strong weekend could earn him a fifth finish inside the top 10.
Satoshi Kodaira and Brooks Koepka are three back at seven-under 133. Rickie Fowler is at four-under 136, while Jordan Spieth is at three-under 137.
Of the Australians, Adam Scott (69-73) and John Senden (72-70) made the cut right on the number of two-over-par 142. Aaron Baddeley (75-70), Rod Pampling (72-78) and Cameron Smith (79-74) all have the weekend off.
Scott opened with two early birdies on the 10th and 11th on Friday to get to three-under par. However his momentum stalled with a triple-bogey 6 on the 13th after putting a ball into the water.