CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Justin Rose shot an 8-under 62, birdieing five consecutive back-nine holes for the second straight round, to take a four-stroke lead over Kevin Sutherland on Friday in the Travelers Championship.
Rose, the Memorial winner three weeks ago who failed to qualify for the U.S. Open last week at Pebble Beach, broke the tournament record for the first 36 holes, finishing at 14-under 126. The 62 was one off the course record at TPC River Highlands.
“Yesterday’s finish was amazing, ran five birdies in the last six and then again today, managed to get five in a row again,” said Rose, who started his second round on the 10th tee. “Birdied 10 of the 12 holes, so from just cruising, suddenly I went to the top of the leaderboard just like that and began to get a nice little lead there.”
Sutherland shot his second straight 65. Vijay Singh (66), Corey Pavin (66), Bill Lunde (63) and Charlie Wi (67) were five strokes back at 9 under.
After making 162 PGA Tour starts without winning, Rose broke through at the Memorial three weeks ago. This was his first start since.
“I think I’m just on a nice streak,” Rose said. “I’m not getting in my way. I’m letting it happen. It’s nice to not field the question, ‘Can this be your first win?’ I must say. That helps. Having done that, that’s one question that it’s just something less that I have to think about.
“Winning a tournament in its own right is difficult. So, when you have the added expectation of it trying to be your first, that can be harder sometimes.”
Sutherland won’t be complaining about consistency after his 65s.
“I’m very pleased. I’ve hit the ball very well,” Sutherland said. “I’ve had 10 birdies for the two days and haven’t had a bogey yet. I’m playing real consistent, real solid.”
Lunde eagled Nos. 13 and 15.
“That’s something on this golf course,” said Lunde, who also started on the 10th tee. “On the back nine, you got some opportunities to make some eagles and make a lot of birdies. It’s nice to get off to a quick start, to get the momentum going early.”
Singh birdied his first two holes.
“It started off, and I thought, ‘Here we go. It’s going to be a good one,’ and then I didn’t take the opportunities on the front nine,” said Singh, who played only par golf over the next seven holes.
Pavin’s birdie bid on the ninth hole, his last of the day, stopped a revolution short.
“It’s all fine by me,” Pavin said. “I’ve been here a long time. I guess the ones who are still alive are still cheering for me.”
All eight of Rose’s birdie putts were inside 11 feet. His putts on the 13th and 15th holes were tap-in birdies after a pair of chip shots.
“Really, I felt under-prepared coming in here,” Rose said. “I got to tell you. Didn’t do a lot of practice. I’m doing a lot of things well. My feel’s really good.
“For a while, I was chasing results because I knew I was playing well, instead of just letting it happen. So, it’s a very fine line out here. It’s very subtle, and I haven’t really changed much. Suddenly, my name’s up there, and you think, ‘Well, what’s different?’ But really, nothing is different. It’s just suddenly happening.”