Justin Rose ran off five birdies on the front nine yesterday and wound up with his second straight round of 6-under-par 65 at the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook to take a one-shot lead over Brendon de Jonge and Webb Simpson in Palm Harbor, Fla.
A 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole put Rose at 13-under 200 — one shot off the 54-hole tournament record — and his one-shot lead looks even more daunting considering the guys chasing him, De Jonge and Simpson, have never won on the PGA Tour.
Neither have the two guys another shot behind — rookie Scott Stalling (66), who made his first cut in the big leagues last week in Puerto Rico, and Gary Woodland (67).
Simpson 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.
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 WGC 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 (67).
Garrett Willis and Chris Couch, the co-leaders after the second round, each shot 70 to fall back, although they were still in the mix.
Sergio Garcia finally made a bogey in America this year — it’s his first PGA Tour event since last August — and then made four more in a round of 72 that most likely left him too far behind. He was six shots back.
PGA champion Martin Kaymer, the No. 1 player in the world, had a 71 and was nine shots behind.
Reigning US Amateur champion Peter Uihlein, a New Bedford native, shot a 72 for a 2-under total.
European — Raphael Jacquelin shot a 2-under 69 to take a one-stroke lead after the third round of the Sicilian Open in Ragusa.
Jacquelin totaled 5-under 204 to pass overnight leader Anthony Wall (72). Phillip Price (67) and Jamie Elson (69) are tied for third, three strokes behind the leader.