Much at stake for trio in finale

Justin Rose playing his shot from the fourth tee in the third round of the BMW Championship on Saturday. He made birdie for the fourth straight hole and his six birdies on the front nine helped him to a 64 and a one-shot lead on 193 over Xander Schau
Justin Rose playing his shot from the fourth tee in the third round of the BMW Championship on Saturday. He made birdie for the fourth straight hole and his six birdies on the front nine helped him to a 64 and a one-shot lead on 193 over Xander Schauffele and Rory McIlroy.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Rose eyeing top rank, Schauffele and Finau aiming for final spot in US Ryder Cup side

PHILADELPHIA • The talk all weekend at the PGA BMW Championship has been over the final captain's pick for the US Ryder Cup team and whether Xander Schauffele or Tony Finau will get the nod from Jim Furyk.

But, on Saturday, another sub-plot emerged - the world No. 1 ranking - after Britain's Justin Rose entered the equation in firing a six-under 64 to seize a one-stroke lead going into the final round at Aronimink Golf Club.

The 38-year-old nabbed six birdies over the opening nine holes and parred through the inward nine to stand on 17-under 193 after 54 holes.

"A one-shot lead doesn't really mean much and it doesn't change my approach tomorrow as I just have to play better than the guys around me," he said.

Fourth-ranked Rose will reach world No. 1 for the first time in his career with a victory unless either top-ranked Dustin Johnson or second-ranked Brooks Koepka, who are tied 33rd after three rounds, have a two-way share of second.

The 2016 Rio Olympic champion can become the fourth Englishman to reach the ranking summit after Nick Faldo, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald and he is no stranger to winning in Philadelphia, having capturing the 2010 PGA National on this Aronimink layout.

 

The nine-time PGA Tour winner also captured his first Major title at the US Open at nearby Merion in 2013.

Rose ran off four consecutive birdies, a spurt ending at the par-three fifth and topped by an 18-foot birdie putt at the third. He also birdied the par-three eighth from 12 feet and the par-five ninth from three feet.

"It was a good day for me today and while it was a day I felt I didn't play that well, it was a good day for scoring and I made my score on the front nine," he added.

"I know there will be guys behind me on the leaderboard who will be gunning to play well and there will be guys who will just play well."

Schauffele, who had led after a second-round 64, was level with Rose until a closing bogey to finish with a 67 and a total of 194 alongside four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland.

With 17th-ranked rival Finau in the driver's seat, the 20th-ranked Schauffele, the British Open runner-up, knows nothing less than victory at Aronimink will give him a realistic chance of making it to the Ryder Cup showdown against Europe at the end of the month in France.

McIlroy, who brilliantly regrouped after a "no-frills" 69 on Friday, is also in what a shout at winning the penultimate FedExCup play-off event after grabbing a ninth-hole eagle and seven birdies, and his only hiccup was again making a mess, for a third day running, of the eighth.

He took a double-bogey after two bogeys in the previous rounds.

"Today, I made the putts I needed to while I also hit more fairways that gave myself more opportunities. It was just one of those days you had to stay aggressive," the eighth-ranked McIlroy said.

Former world No. 1 Tiger Woods produced his best start in the three days with back-to-back birdies, and then birdied the 14th and par-five 16th on his way to a 66 that left him sharing 11th on 198.

"Today was one of those days where it was frustrating because I hit the ball well enough to shoot a low score," he said. "I'm now going to have to shoot one of those 61s or 62s just to have a chance.

"The golf course is soft and everyone is making birdies. You can be aggressive. I got to take a run at it."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2018, with the headline 'Much at stake for trio in finale'. Print Edition | Subscribe