Sat, Oct 21, 2006 - Page 18 News List

England's Rose so close to US PGA record

SUB-60 MARK Justin Rose hit 15 fairways off the tee and 17 greens in regulation while shooting a course record 60 in the first round of the Funai Classic in Florida

AP , LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA

Justin Rose reacts after missing a putt at the 18th that would have given him a 59 during the first round of the Funai Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on Thursday.

PHOTO: AP

Justin Rose missed a 14-foot birdie putt on No. 18 for a US PGA Tour record, settling for a 12-under 60 on Thursday and a four-stroke lead in the Funai Classic at Disney.

Rose still set course and tournament records, but just missed equaling the tour record of 59 shared by Al Geiberger (1977), Chip Beck (1991) and David Duval (1999).

The 26-year-old Englishman dropped his putter, put his hands on his knees and dropped his head after missing his birdie attempt. He paused, looked up and managed a wry smile.

"I did everything right to shoot 59," Rose said. "All I wanted to do was have a putt at 59."

Rose hit a 6-iron from 190 yards on the 433-yard 18th. The ball bounced 6 inches from the hole, rolled past and stopped near the fringe. Rose tipped his hat several times as he walked toward the green and couldn't stop smiling. He lined up the putt from both sides, took two practice swings, then pulled it just left.

After his initial reaction, he tapped in for his best round ever on the US tour, three shots better than his previous low set in the 2002 Deutsche Bank Championship and matched in the 2004 Canadian Open.

"You never know if you're going to get that putt again," he said.

Richard Johnson was alone in second place, four shots back. Tag Ridings, Steve Flesch, Bob Tway, Charles Howell III and J.J. Henry were five strokes behind Rose. Howell's 65 may have been the most impressive considering he played the much tougher Magnolia Course.

"I would much rather have Justin's position right now," Howell said. "But I'm not complaining with where I am."

Rose started his record round with three straight birdies. He got even hotter with six consecutive birdies beginning at the par-5 seventh. At 10 under and heading to No. 13, Rose turned to his caddie and said, "A 59 is on the card here."

He needed three birdies over the final holes to make history. He gave himself chances, too, when he nearly hit the flag with shots on the final four holes.

But he missed two good chances to go lower and two-putted each of the four par 5s.

He joked that next time he won't talk openly about shooting a 59.

"Right now, I don't feel disappointed," said Rose, who missed just three fairways off the tee and hit 17 greens in regulation. "Maybe the enormity of 59 will hit me and I'll think, `Well, that was an amazing chance.'"

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