<
>

Justin Rose catches a spark at Firestone

AKRON, Ohio -- It has never been easy for Jim Furyk at Firestone, so it makes perfect sense that winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and his first World Golf Championship title figures to be difficult again.

A tough-luck loser on a couple of occasions here over the years, Furyk, 45, saw his 4-shot advantage eaten up Saturday during the third round, not so much because he did anything wrong, but because Justin Rose did plenty right.

The Englishman who couldn't buy a birdie on Friday made seven of them during the third round to vault into a share of the lead through 54 holes, shooting 63 to tie Furyk.

Rose, the eighth-ranked player in the world who won earlier this year at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, has given himself a number of chances to win of late. He will have another shot on Sunday with the year's final major, the PGA Championship, looming next week.

"I think my game's in good shape,'' said Rose, who lost in a playoff to David Lingmerth at the Memorial earlier this year. "If I look at my results of late, I've just been missing a hot round, or maybe the putting has been great one day, not so good the next day. Just looking for that tiny bit of consistency through the week. Just giving myself opportunities, and that's all you really want.''

Rose, who won the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion -- 10 years after Furyk won the U.S Open at Olympia Fields -- has certainly been around the lead a good bit recently.

Since sharing second at the Masters, Rose has four top-10 finishes around the world, including a tie for sixth at The Open where he entered the final round tied with eventual winner Zach Johnson and playoff participant Marc Leishman. Last week Rose finished T-4 at the Quicken Loans National.

Rose didn't make a bogey Saturday -- the only player through three rounds to have a clean card -- a day after not making a birdie in shooting a 1-over 71.

"I guess that shows it just evens out,'' Rose said. "If you can kind of stay the course and stay patient, kind of believe that you're going to get your turn eventually. Yesterday, 71, I actually played really well. Not much different to today, especially off the tee. It just didn't happen really yesterday.

"But I came into today with a belief that I was still playing well and probably made the adjustment mentally that possibly I was giving the course a bit too much respect.''

If things really do turn, then Furyk is due -- here and in general.

This is the 10th time since 2011 that Furyk has had at least a share of the 54-hole lead, and he failed to convert any of the previous nine into victories. His win earlier this year at the RBC Heritage came from behind, and it followed a frustrating stretch of nearly five years without a win.

Furyk, who has 17 career PGA Tour victories, but has never won a WGC, has a strong record at this tournament with nine top-10 finishes. Included was a playoff loss to Tiger Woods in 2001 in which they went seven extra holes. He also tied for second in 2012 after leading most of the way, only to make a double-bogey on the 18th hole to lose by one to Keegan Bradley.

"I'm disappointed I never won here,'' Furyk said. "It's one of my favorite courses we play. But to have like a chip on my shoulder? No, I don't look at it (like that). It's another year and opportunity.''

Although Furyk shot under par in Round 3, his 69 on Saturday matched the highest score of any player in the top 10 and gave others a chance on Sunday.

Irishman Shane Lowry is just 2 shots back after a 67 and Steven Bowditch (63), Ian Poulter (65), Henrik Stenson (68) and Bubba Watson (69) are just 4 strokes back.

"Obviously I'm trending nicely this week,'' Rose said. "And to keep it going into next week is the goal.''