NORTON – Justin Rose birdied three of the final four holes Friday to emerge with a one-shot lead after the first round of the Dell Technologies Championship, the second of four playoff events on the PGA Tour.
Rose knocked in par putts shorter than 6 feet on the 15th, 17th and 18th holes to close with a 6-under-par 65 at TPC Boston. Scotland’s Russell Knox and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer are tied for second at 5 under. Four Americans, Keegan Bradley, Beau Hossler, Gary Woodland and Chris Kirk, share fourth place at 4 under.
Eight players, including world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, sit at 3 under, tied for eighth.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are in a group tied for 57th in the 98-player field at 1 over par.
Rose completed his bogey-free round using just 27 putts, as he found 15 of 18 greens in regulation.
“I guess just keeping the card clean made the birdies really count for something,” said Rose, whose lone win in 37 PGA Tour playoff events came at the 2011 BMW Championship. “I looked at the pins last night, and I thought there was an opportunity to make some birdies. The pins were in accessible places. I felt clearly it was trickier than I thought last night. It was windier today, a cool breeze, just enough to swirl around and make it tricky.”
Rose birdied Nos. 4, 7 and 10 before his late surge. A win this week would lift him from sixth in the FedEx Cup standings to first.
Knox also came on strong late in his round. Sitting at even par after his second bogey of the day at No. 12, he produced three birdies plus an eagle at No. 15 in the final six holes.
Ancer managed a bogey-free round, recording a birdie at No. 18 to make the turn at 1 under before finishing his round on the front nine with four birdies in a six-hole stretch
“Very solid round,” said Ancer, who is in the playoffs for the first time and is looking for his first PGA Tour win. “Bogey-free always is a good thing, especially out here in the playoffs.
“I felt great. Hit the ball good off the tee. Stayed patient. Some putts didn’t go in on the front nine and I just stayed patient and made some coming in. It was nice. A solid golf course like this with a little bit of wind you have to shoot a lot under. (At) 5 under, I’m very pleased.”
The field lost one player when Billy Horschel withdrew following nine holes because of illness.
The top 70 players in the FedEx Cup standings after the Dell Technologies Championship move on to the BMW Championship, which starts Thursday at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa. Following that event, the top 30 in the standings will compete in the season-ending Tour Championship, Sept. 20-23 at East Lake in Atlanta.
–Field Level Media