PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Justin Rose poured in a 10-foot birdie putt on the last hole to match at least one aspect of Tiger Woods’ epic 2000 victory at Pebble Beach – a 6-under 65. It equals the lowest round in U.S. Open history at the iconic venue.
Rose takes a one-shot lead over a foursome of players: Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele, Louis Oosthuizen and Aaron Wise.
“I don’t know if I did a good job of anything other than scrambling,” said Rose, who actually leads the field on the greens with 22 putts. “It’s nice to know I can shoot a score like that with more in the tank.”
Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open winner, is playing in his first major at Pebble Beach. He arrived here early, taking advantage of a quietly wonderful stroll around paradise.
It wasn’t quite like that on Thursday.
Rose played alongside Woods and Jordan Spieth in the opening round. Playing in an amped-up atmosphere alongside Woods forces the Englishman to tunnel in and focus harder.
“I think playing with Tiger a couple of weeks ago at the Memorial was good,” said Rose. “I had those memories. I felt really comfortable. The crowd were big, huge, six or seven deep, pretty much all the way. So there’s the obvious noise. I had to hit some shots where I didn’t quite have the setup or the peace and quiet that I would normally hit a golf shot under, I had to try to keep pushing that. But you play late on a Sunday afternoon it’s noisy. It’s what you want.”
Rose played the first seven holes in four under and birdied Nos. 16-18. He hit only half the greens and fairways.
“Rosey proved the golf course could be had,” said Woods. “You know, he struggled there for a little bit and then fought it off. And what an incredible finish.”
Looking ahead to Friday, note that Rose leads the tour in second-round scoring.
“This is just a very small step towards outcome,” said Rose. “So you don’t feel like that buzz that you would on a Sunday, but you can’t help but look around over your shoulder, and damn, this is Pebble Beach. Shot 65 and you’re in the U.S. Open. It’s a cool moment. Whatever transpires the rest of the week, it was a cool moment.”