CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose lives in hope.
The Englishman moved into contention in the 147th British Open with a 7-under-par 64 to tie the lowest score recorded in an Open at Carnoustie, and the lowest first-round score recorded over the toughest course on the Open rota. It moved him to T-6 six on the leaderboard, three shots behind joint leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner when he finished his round.
Pretty good for a guy who just scraped into the weekend.
The World No. 3 had to hole a 13-foot birdie putt on the 18th green a day earlier to make the weekend. He went out in the third two-ball with Kiradech Aphibarnrat at 9:35 a.m. local time, and was finished long before the leaders teed off at 4 p.m.
No wonder he began his round with a new lease on life.
“Gratitude just to be here,” said Rose, who had no bogeys on his card. “I think the first couple days were hard work and frustrating.
“I think the birdie on 18 last night freed me up, and I’m just very happy to be out on this golf course and not down the road somewhere else this morning. So that might have been part of the shift in mindset today. Obviously, I had nothing to lose.”
Rose birdied the final two holes to match the 64s Steve Stricker and Richard Green recorded in the 2007 Open here. The 2013 U.S. Open champion stepped off the 18th green hoping for the wind to get up to make it harder for the leaders.
“I thought 4- or 5-under was going to be a good round but nothing special. Not going to do enough for me going into tomorrow. I felt like those late couple birdies certainly will make tomorrow at least interesting.”
Rose was facing a long wait to see where he’d be at the end of the day. Even if he doesn’t start Sunday with a chance to win, he should have a chance to improve his top-10 strike rate in his home Open. The 37-year-old only has one top-10 finish since he burst onto the scene as an amateur with a T-4 at Royal Birkdale 20 years ago. He placed T-6 in 2015.
Chris Wood gave English fans further hope when he raced to the turn in 31 strokes, 5-under. Subsequent birdies at 10 and 13 moved him into a tie for 11th. Two shots to escape a greenside bunker at 14 cost him a bogey and ended his chances of moving higher.
“That sort of killed the round a little bit,” Wood said. “Eight under through 14 is looking strong there.”
Wood is fighting swing problems and a long way from the form that earned him a 2016 Ryder Cup appearance.
“The game has not felt I’ve had much control for a long time,” he said.
Rose will be looking for as much control on Sunday as he had in Round 3. Another 64 tomorrow will definitely give him chance of lifting the Claret Jug.