Justin Rose one ahead of Rory McIlroy at BMW Championship
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 10/09/18 12:06am
Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the BMW Championship as Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood both made superb charges on day three in Philadelphia.
The Aronimink course was blitzed by a barrage of birdies following a delay to the start of play following torrential rain, which forced tournament officials to permit preferred lies on the fairways, and only six of the 69-man field were over par on Saturday.
Rose was disappointed to par every hole on the back nine after a scorching, outward 29, but he ended the day with the outright lead on 17 under after playing partner Xander Schauffele bogeyed the final hole, while McIlroy fired a serene 63 to close within a shot of the Englishman.
There was further good reading on the leaderboard for European Ryder Cup fans as Fleetwood carded a 62 for the second consecutive day, although his third round effort will not count as matching the official course record due to preferred lies being in place.
Fleetwood will begin the final round two shots off the pace alongside Rickie Fowler, while Tiger Woods has an outside chance of ending his five-year winless run after a bogey-free 66 lifted him to 12 under par.
Rose was in irresistible form on the front nine after scrambling a par at the first, reeling off four consecutive birdies before adding two more at eight and nine to hit the front as overnight-leader Schauffele struggled to keep pace.
But Rose, winner of the AT&T National at the same venue eight years ago, was unable to continue peppering the pins on the inward run before missing further decent birdie chances from 10 feet at 15 and 16, and he was just off target with a 15-footer for a closing three as he settled for a 64.
That proved good enough to lead outright, and there is widespread speculation that the tournament could be reduced to 54 holes with another band of heavy rain expected to hit the region on Sunday and Monday, with organisers confirming an early start for the final round in which players will again go out in threeballs in a two-tee start from 7am.
Rose was one of many to tear up the front nine along with the likes of McIlroy, who birdied the first two holes and picked up further shots at five and seven before his charge hit the buffers at the short eighth, where his tee shot bounded over the back of the green and a clumsy pitch failed to stay on the putting surface.
McIlroy needed three more to get down, but he got both shots back at the next hole when he smote a towering 230-yard second to eight feet and confidently rattled in the chance for a brilliant eagle.
The 2012 champion looked in cruise control down the stretch and birdied 13 and 16 before closing out his 64 in style, draining a 40-foot putt for a three at the last to ensure a place in the final group on Sunday with Rose and Schauffele, whose final-hole lapse saw him return a 67.
Fleetwood looked out of the running after a first-round 71, but he got his game to click with a course record-equalling 62 on Friday and he matched that score a day later, making three birdies in five holes around the turn before adding four in a row from the 13th.
The Englishman, who hasn't dropped a shot since the 18th hole on Thursday, raced to 15 under for the tournament along with Fowler, who bogeyed the last to take some gloss off his third straight round of 65 in his first start since the PGA Championship.
Open champion Francesco Molinari kept a blemish off his card as he fired a 64 to get to 13 under, with Woods one further behind after he failed to build on a bright start with birdies at the opening two holes.
Early start alert: Due to the threat of bad weather, live final-round coverage of the BMW Championship will now begin at 1pm on Sunday. Red button on Sky Sports Golf, and also on Sky Sports Mix.