DUBLIN, Ohio – Justin Rose made an early surge Saturday at the Memorial, when it seemed as though everyone except Tiger Woods was making a move. Rose kept right on going until he posted a 6-under 66 and emerged with a three-shot lead.
Five years after he first had that handshake with Jack Nicklaus after winning his tournament, Rose put himself in great position by missing only one green - just barely - on the back nine and creating a little comfort going into the final round.
He was at 15-under 201, three clear of Francesco Molinari and David Lingmerth.
''I guess I played a good, solid, patient round of golf. It ended up turning into a great round of golf,'' Rose said. ''I made my birdies when I had a chance and I limited the mistakes. Kind of surprised to play my way into a three-shot lead. I was looking just to keep pace, but it's a fantastic position going into Sunday.''
Woods was in a peculiar position after the worst score of his pro career.
When he tapped in for quadruple-bogey 8 on the final hole at Muirfield Village, he had an 85 and was in last place. For the first time, he will tee off as a single. Woods did not speak to reporters after the round. The round didn't feature the kind of shockingly bad chips he had in Phoenix when he shot 82. It was mediocre golf when he wasn't making bogeys and double bogeys.
Molinari had four birdies on the front nine until he cooled and shot 69. Lingmerth opened with a birdie to expand his one-shot lead at the start of the round, followed two bogeys with an eagle and then stalled. He shot 72.
Jim Furyk, another past champion at Muirfield Village, had a 70 and was four shots behind.
Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley were among the early starters who showed what the course might yield. Johnson, who has been frustrated with his swing in recent weeks, happened to walk by the TV when he saw a commercial of himself. He was swinging it great, noticed a difference in the setup, worked it out on the range with Claude Harmon III and then shot 29 on the front.
In vintage Johnson fashion, he started the back nine with a double bogey and an eagle, then settled in to a 65. Bradley was playing behind him. Bradley and Johnson are friends who often play money games at The Bear's Club - the course Nicklaus built in Florida - and Bradley was inspired to keep up. He also shot 65.
So did Kevin Streelman, who was in a group at 10-under 206 that included defending champion Hideki Matsuyama (71). Bradley was six shots behind, while Johnson was lagging at seven shots out.
Masters champion Jordan Spieth finished with a double bogey for a 72 and was nine shots behind.
It was a day of great fluctuation – 20 shots between the best score and the worst.
Woods had something to do with that.
''Every single shot out there, you're on your toes, you're on your guard,'' Rose said. ''One poor judgment of the wind, or one poor execution of an iron shot, and you can make bogey in a heartbeat.''
Rose made his on the ninth hole and it settled him down. He never thinks he's going to post a low score, though he had reason with four birdies through seven holes. His bogey on the ninth was the reminder he needed. He was solid the rest of the way, even missing a few birdies putts inside 10 feet, and the lead kept growing.
Rose must love his position now. Already a winner in New Orleans last month, and with the U.S. Open around the corner, he was poised to take a solid game and a bundle of confidence into the second major of the year.
DIVOTS: Patrick Rodgers was three shots out of the lead going into Saturday and shot 78. He was in a tie for 46th, and can't afford to slip much farther to secure special temporary membership for the rest of the year, which would give him unlimited exemptions. ... Phil Mickelson made six bogeys and a double bogey in his round of 78 to fall out of contention. ... Andy Sullivan was tied for fifth. Anything in the top 10 should be enough to assure he'll be safely in the top 60 in the world next week to get into the U.S. Open.