By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Justin Rose had a Dickensian round of golf on Friday at Oak Hill.
The worst of times came as the rain poured in the morning and the Englishman stepped to the 10th tee, his first of the day. He bogeyed that hole and the next, then negated a birdie at the 14th with a bogey at No. 18, a hole he would later say was playing "incredibly difficult."
"I had a sense of wow, this is just going to be a struggle today," Rose recalled. "We are going to really have to hang tough."
As Rose made the turn, though, the rain stopped and suddenly it was the best of times. He staked a 7-iron to 15 feet to start a string of three straight birdies, then finished with three more for a 29 that was one shot off the nine-hole mark at the PGA.
The resulting round of 66 put Rose at 6 under and three strokes off the lead held by Jason Dufner as the reigning U.S. Open seeks a second major of the season.
"Definitely a round of two halves today," Rose said. "The front nine was tough; I think it was tough for everybody. It was raining pretty hard at times. ...
"At that point I just felt like I was trying to hang on, just not try and shoot way over par, really. The rain did stop at the turn and put on a fresh glove, and got the waterproofs off and kind of felt like you could start to play some golf instead of just trying to survive.
"Obviously I got hot and kept rolling with it. Adam (Scott) played some great golf the last couple of days and showed me that this course is playable and you can make some birdies out there. And when I got hot, I stayed with it, which was nice."
Rose estimated he and his caddy went through a half dozen towels on his soggy first nine holes.
"There were times out there where I even hit shots with wet hands," he said. "You go through your routine, you take your hand off for a second, raindrops again between the grip and the hands. But at the end of the day, you have just got to sometimes do your best and pull the trigger."
Rose said he felt like he was a "rebuilding phase" when he got to the front nine on Friday. He had fallen back to even par for the tournament so those birdie putts were particularly well-timed.
"This is a golf course you have to respect," Rose said. "It just happened to flow for me today. I hit the right shots at the right time. But it's still a tough golf course, still got to give it a lot of respect.
"The front nine yesterday, I also had a bit of run myself. ... If I can just figure out the back nine a bit better, it should be good."
Rose is 9 under on the front nine and 3 over on the back. He knows he'll do well to remain patient over the next two rounds like he was on Friday.
"A day like today is a good learning lesson," Rose said. "If you have a sticky patch on the weekend, just hang tough and hopefully you'll have your run again. At no point do we get ahead of ourselves."