Justin Rose leads PGA Grand Slam of Golf after first day thanks to hot start
By Josh Ball, PGA.com Contributor
SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda – Justin Rose has his sights set on adding the PGA Grand Slam of Golf to his list of achievements.
Padraig Harrington just wants a rest.
Rose, the first-round leader, and Harrington, the defending champion, had rounds at either end of the spectrum at Port Royal Golf Course Tuesday, and while both have said they plan to enjoy Wednesday's final round, it will be for wildly different reasons.
Rose is two shots clear and in the driver’s seat after an opening round 4-under par 67 that included the shot of the day: A blind approach from 186 yards over trees and water to the first green that he hit to within a foot, having pulled his tee shot well left and into the rough on the second fairway.
"It should have been the shot of the day," said Rose. "It followed the worst shot of the day.
"I had to cut it around the tree out of the Bermuda [grass] over the water; so just the start I was looking for, really."
Harrington, meanwhile, finished with a 3-over 74, and the three birdies that did come his way came at Port Royal's three par 5s: the second, seventh and 17th.
There was more blue than red on the Irishman's scorecard, however, with bogeys at Nos. 4, 5, 9 and 14, and a double bogey at 16.
Sandwiched in between are Jason Dufner at 2 under and Adam Scott, who's a shot further back. Both will fancy their chances of catching Rose, but both will have to tame the demons they found on the back nine Tuesday if they are to overhaul the U.S. Open champion.
Rose's opening birdie set the tone for his round, and at one point the Englishman looked like he might set a new course record, breaking the 65s posted by Lucas Glover in 2009 and Webb Simpson last year.
Birdies at Nos. 4, 5, and 7 followed. And while he dropped a shot at 9, when he found a fairway bunker and pulled his approach left of the green, birdies at 10 and 12 moved him in to the outright lead at 5 under.
Dufner and Scott were well in contention at that stage, having had good front nines of their own, and both were 4 under through the turn.
However, while Rose managed to battle back from his hiccups at 13 and 14, holing an eight-foot clutch putt at 15 to get off ''the bogey train, '' and parring the tricky par-3 16th, Dufner and Scott fell back.
TUESDAY NOTEBOOK: What a difference a year makes at Port Royal
Both dropped shots at 14, when Scott three-putted from the front of the green, and Dufner mis-hit his approach. A bad lie in the bunker at 16 cost Scott two shots trying to get out, while Dufner again left an approach short and two-putted.
"I felt like I didn't really play my best today, but I kept the ball out of some really bad spots out there on the golf course," said Rose. "I felt like I putted really well, I felt like I read the greens well.
"If I can do that again tomorrow, and clean up a couple of mistakes, swing the putter a little bit better, should be a good day."
As the man to catch, Rose can enjoy being out in front for the final round.
"If I can shoot another 4 or 5 under, I might be pretty hard to catch, and if someone does catch you, you have to sort of give them credit," said Rose.
"My job tomorrow is just to go out, have fun again. This is what it's all about, being here and having fun. First and foremost, enjoying the reason why you are here; but obviously you do want to play your best and I want to go out and just play a good round of golf and try and be hard to catch."
Harrington too plans on having fun, but his enjoyment comes from a position of knowing that he really has nothing to lose.
The Irishman is, by his own admission, ''over-golfed'' and has already decided to take a 21/2 month break this winter. He put his troubles down to being stale.
"I played like stale golf, tired golf," he said. "I just kind of look at it and you know, just played probably too many events and I feel it's time for a break.
"The three birdies I made were all on the par 5s, tap-ins,'' he explained. ''I'm not holing any putts, even though I didn't hit a bad putt all day. And any time I hit an average shot or a bad shot, I end up making a bogey or more from it.
"So it was really a question of – that's a sign, when you're not making the most out of your round, that's a sign that you're just a little bit stale and not sharp," he said. "That was very much the case today. So that leaves me in a nice position to enjoy tomorrow."
That rest Harrington seeks means dropping a couple of tournaments, something he has already decided to do. The Irishman, though, feels it's time to give himself a proper break.
"Already in my head [I've] pulled out of another two events during the winter to give me a longer winter break," said Harrington. "And it will be probably the longest winter break I've taken probably since I won my majors. There's not a shadow of a doubt that I am completely over-golfed at this very moment."
Dufner and Scott, meanwhile, will challenge Rose, knowing they are still very much in the hunt. Dufner, though, confessed to being "pretty beat up" after a long season, and thinks that the weather could be a deciding factor in the final round.
"I thought the guys were going to shoot pretty low after our front nine. I think 6 or 7 under could have been leading after today and we all kind of fell back a little bit," he said. "It's a course where if you can get going, you can shoot a 6, 7, 8 under. Just depends what the weather is like tomorrow."
For Scott the task is simple. He needs, in his own words, to "light it up." And the Masters champion thinks his game is in pretty good shape, despite a couple of mishaps on the back nine.
"I felt like I played pretty well," said Scott. "I probably should have had a couple better. … have to go out there tomorrow and light it up. Anything can happen out there. If you don't play well, it's not easy to get it around here out of the Bermuda rough.
"Justin is playing great, and if he plays like that again, it's going to be tough. But, you don't have to do much wrong to shoot a couple over around here, either," he added. "Let's see what happens; if I can get off to a good start and keep pace, hopefully it will be exciting coming down the last few holes."