Rose takes the lead in Tampa
Saturday, March 19, 2011; 7:49 PM
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Justin Rose is coming off a year in which he won two PGA Tour events on strong golf courses. He knows what to expect from his emotions in the final round and how to stay patient amid a crowded leaderboard.
The four guys behind him have never won.
And that made Rose's one-shot lead Saturday in the Transitions Championship seem a little larger.
"It doesn't mean it's all going to go smoothly tomorrow," Rose said. "You have to be ready for whatever happens. But at least I kind of am aware of the ups and downs, and the things I'm going to face. And I think that maybe it's a lot easier to deal with."
Rose was patient for long enough for the birdies to fall, and he shot a second straight round of 6-under 65 in more perfect conditions at Innisbrook to build a lead over Brendon de Jonge and Webb Simpson.
A 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole put Rose at 13-under 200, one shot off the 54-hole tournament record.
De Jonge and Simpson have never won on the PGA Tour. Neither have the two guys another shot behind - rookie Scott Stalling, who only made his first cut in the big leagues last week in Puerto Rico; and Gary Woodland, who lost in a playoff at the Bob Hope Classic this year.
"You want to give yourself a chance to win, and I have that opportunity now," de Jonge said.
Simpson, whose wife recently gave birth to their first child, kept pace with Rose for much of the day until dropping shots on two of the tough par 3s on the back nine. He still had a third straight 67 and was trying not to think ahead to Sunday.
"This course is tough enough to where you've got to think about the hole you're on," Simpson said. "That is what we dream about, and this is what we practice for, to have a chance on Sunday. So I'm looking forward to the challenge."
De Jonge earned a spot in the final group with a steady round of 66.
Nine players were separated by only three shots going into the final round, and while most of them don't have Rose's winning experience, there is a name that is hard to ignore. Nick Watney, coming off a World Golf Championship title last week at Doral, had seven birdies in his round of 65 and was in the group at 10-under 203 with Brandt Snedeker, who shot a 67.