LEMONT, Ill. – Justin Rose kept it simple even as Cog Hill got a little harder Saturday, making only one bogey in his 2-under 69 that gave him a four-shot lead going into the final round of the BMW Championship.
Rose played a tidy round in mild sunshine and a swirling breeze. And while he failed to birdie any of the par 5s, he didn’t make any of the big mistakes that hurt the other two players in the final group.
Mark Wilson, who started the day tied for the lead, played a five-hole stretch in 5 over on the back nine and shot 77. He played the last hour unsure if he would get a two-shot penalty for grounding his club in the bunker at No. 14, although he was cleared because his club was placed in the sand to keep his balance as he replaced his ball. Wilson still shot 77 and fell eight shots back.
Webb Simpson was in contention until going from a bunker into the hazard and making double bogey on No. 17. He shot 73 and was six shots out of the lead.
Rose, who is at No. 34 in the FedEx Cup, should have no trouble getting into the top 30 who advance to the Tour Championship next week in Atlanta. He was at 13-under 200.
The closest player to him was John Senden of Australia, who needs to win to have any chance of making the Presidents Cup team. Senden had a rugged start, but had four birdies on his last eight holes for a 70.
Even with Rose looking like a runaway winner, there was plenty at stake for two cups – the FedEx Cup that pays $10 million to the winner next week at East Lake, and the Presidents Cup in Australia that doesn’t pay a dime.
The latter means more to Geoff Ogilvy, who grew up in Melbourne and now has a home on the 14th hole. He put himself into position for a shot at both of them with four birdies late in his round for a 68, leaving him in a tie for third at 8-under 205.
A week ago, he was on the verge of being eliminated from the FedEx Cup playoffs until making a birdie on the final hole to finish at No. 69, when only the top 70 advanced to Cog Hill.
If he can stay no worse than a two-way tie for third, he will go to Atlanta and qualify for the International team at the Presidents Cup.
“I’m trying not to think about anything other than just play good golf, but it creeps into your mind every now and then,” Ogilvy said. “It’s a bit more complicated than your normal tournament.”
He was tied with Bill Haas, who was within three shots of the lead until a bad break on his tee shot at the 16th led to double bogey. Haas, who is No. 12 in the Presidents Cup standings, had to settle for a 69 and was five shots behind.
If he can hold his position, Haas would make the team.
Similar to Ogilvy, a strong Sunday might give him a double bonus. His goal was to make the Tour Championship, and that now appears safe, and he has never played for a U.S. team in any cup.
Luke Donald, the world No. 1 who was an NCAA champion at Northwestern, is only kicking himself for the way he started. He opened with a 75, yet followed that with rounds of 66 and 67 and was tied for seventh, although eight shots out of the lead. The only other player with a 67 on Saturday was Sergio Garcia, who broke a club in anger along the way. Garcia also was tied for seventh.
Rose really has done very little wrong this week at Cog Hill.
He worked on his swing with coach Sean Foley earlier in the week and has a simple thought process over each shot, mostly related to turning his hips. The shots look easy. The club selection never seems to be a big debate. He’s making enough putts.
Even as those around him fell apart, Rose stayed the course.
“I was aware today that it was a pretty tricky day and guys weren’t going low,” Rose said. “Pretty happy to get it in where I was.”
The trick now is to avoid playing defensively with a four-shot lead, although it doesn’t look as though Sunday will be easy. Rose also had a four-shot lead last year at the AT&T National and wound up winning by one shot. He also had a three-shot lead at Hartford last year and failed to win.
“I’ve been there a little bit last year – won one, lost one when I was in a situation like this,” he said. “So I’ve got some good experience on which to count on. Just keep seeing good shots and keep playing one shot at a time. I don’t think you can get defensive. A four-shot lead isn’t really a big enough lead to waste holes.”
Jim Furyk, who is holding down the No. 9 spot in the Presidents Cup, had a 70 and was tied for seventh. He is narrowly ahead of David Toms, who is narrowly ahead of Brandt Snedeker. They all took turns making a run, though Toms and Snedeker shot 73s and were tied for 14th.