DUBLIN, Ohio – With 18 holes to go, Justin Rose finds himself in a familiar position at Muirfield Village.
“When I won this thing a few years ago, I was chasing Sunday three back,” said Rose, who claimed the trophy at The Memorial Tournament in 2010. “Anytime you’ve done it, you can draw strength from that.”
As was the case here three years ago, the Englishman enters the final round three strokes off the lead, an advantage this time held by Matt Kuchar. Having finished several holes of his second round Saturday morning, Rose noted difficulty maintaining focus on a long day amid difficult conditions.
“I felt like I got a little lazy with my swing, maybe tired or sloppy,” explained Rose, who reached 12 of 18 greens in regulation en route to a 1-under 71 Saturday. “I talked to myself and made a few good swings coming in. But definitely had to refocus.”
Midway through his third round, the veteran appeared destined for the middle of the pack, having dropped to 2 under overall after bogeys on holes 7, 8 and 11. A fortuitous shot on the par-3 12th, though, helped Rose to right the ship on the back nine.
“I missed the green at 12. My ball was embedded and I chipped in,” he said. “That really ignited the day.”
Rose capitalized on the momentum shift, adding birdies at both 14 and 17 to move back up the leaderboard while several of the players he was attempting to chase began to falter. Now the Englishman sits in a tie for fourth at 5 under along with Bill Haas and Matt Jones, eager to once again receive the trophy Sunday afternoon from host Jack Nicklaus.
“I had a pretty specific game plan going into the final round in 2010, being three back,” added Rose, who fired a 6-under 66 to win by three shots here three years ago. “I’m sure that will play again this week.”