When Friday morning dawned, Justin Rose appeared to have a better chance of heading home early than he did of contending in the Quicken Loans National over the weekend. He played his first nine in Thursday’s first round in 4 over par, and did well to shoot 74.
“I was sore,” Rose said, “and just not mentally with it at all.”
Yet the 2013 U.S. Open champion, who won this tournament in 2010, bounced back brilliantly Friday with a second-round 65 that featured six birdies — five on his second nine, which was the front — and not a single bogey.
That effort left him as perhaps the splashiest name on a leader board that is devoid of stars, sitting at 3 under, three shots back.
“This is a tough golf course, and once you get on the wrong side of it, it can eat you up,” Rose said. “Really pleased the way I bounced back the last 27 holes.”
When Rose won this tournament back when it was called the AT&T National, it was staged at Aronimink Golf Club outside Philadelphia. Last year, he had committed to play at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda but won his first major championship two weeks before, played the following week, grew exhausted and withdrew.
Now he’s playing some solid golf. He tied for 12th at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst and was in the top 10 in New Orleans, Charlotte and at the Players Championship. His last win, though, was that U.S. Open. He is set up to pursue another here.
“That’s exactly where you want to be after the first couple of rounds is within striking distance,” Rose said, “and not having to do too much work on the weekends.”
When the Quicken Loans National began, Rose was one of four players ranked in the top 10 in the world and 16 major winners in the field. The cut, though, left the strength of the field devastated — and not just because Tiger Woods missed it.
Woods, ranked fourth in the world, went home after posting a 7-over 149. Jason Day, ranked sixth, double bogeyed Nos. 10 and 11, then made a bogey at 17 to shoot his second straight 73 and miss the cut by a shot at 4-over 146.
Seven of the 16 winners of majors won’t be here for the weekend: Woods, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Y.E. Yang, Ernie Els, Mike Weir and Vijay Singh.
One of the most impressive rounds Friday came from Jordan Spieth — who was frequently seen pointing sharply in all sorts of directions from the tee, then tapping in for par at the end. Spieth hit just six of 14 fairways and seven of 18 greens and still managed to shoot 70, leaving him at 2 over — and not out of it.
“It’s amazing that we are able to even make the cut, really, for the places I put it off the tee,” Spieth said.
Spieth is only 20, but he has held the lead in tournaments before — including this one, at the midway point a year ago. He understands how he did that, too.
“I just know that I shot 6 under on this course before,” Spieth said. “If I can just get the ball in play, I feel really, really comfortable around the greens.” . . .
The toughest hole at Congressional on Friday was the par-4 18th at 0.425 shots over par, beating out the par-4 11th. The easiest hole was the par-4 ninth, which yielded 51 birdies to the 120-player field.