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A Rose is a rose is a rose

PALM HARBOR, Florida – Britain’s Justin Rose birdied five of the first seven holes and closed with another on Saturday to fire a six-under par 65 for a one-stroke lead at the PGA Transitions Championship.

Rose birdied the opening par-5 hole, reeled off four birdies in a row starting at the par-3 fourth, followed with 10 pars in a row and finished by sinking a curling downhill 5-foot birdie putt at 18 for his second 65 in a row.

“I was aware I hadn’t made a birdie for quite some time so it was nice to finish off the round like that,” Rose said.

The bogey-free round put the 30-year-old Englishman on 13-under par 200 through 54 holes at the $5.5 million tournament, one stroke ahead of Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge and American Webb Simpson.

Rose won his first US titles last year at the Memorial and National, the top US tuneup events for the US and British Opens, and could strike again three weeks ahead of the Masters.

“I decided to play this week and next heading into the Masters to try and drop some shots on the way to Augusta,” Rose said. “No doubt this week has been one of the best (for striking the ball).”

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Rose went five-under for his last nine holes Friday and his front nine Saturday, what would have been a 10-under 61 had they been paired.

“I’ll take that as an unofficial round,” Rose said. “The first 27 holes I had to be patient. Nothing was happening for me. After that, it seemed like everything started happening all at once. It’s going really well for me.”

De Jonge opened and closed the front and back nines with birdies and added another at the par-5 11th to complete a run of three in a row in a bogey-free round of 66 in quest of his first US PGA title.

Simpson birdied three of the first five holes, followed with another at 11 and answered bogeys at 13 and 15 with birdies at 16 and 17 and missed a 30-foot birdie bid at 18 by inches to settle for his third consecutive round of 67.

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