If his play at Colonial is any indication, Justin Rose has made himself one of the favorites to win a second U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in three weeks time, if he wasn't already. The Englishman has been a machine, carding rounds of 66, 64 and Saturday's four-under 66 to take a commanding four-shot lead into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational.
Rose, 37, had yet to tee off as Jon Rahm and Corey Conners each made a huge move, with Rahm eventually finishing off a six-under 64 and Conners a seven-under 63 to get into a tie for fourth at eight-under 202. Rose was able to distance himself from them immediately, making three consecutive birdies to open his round. With a chance to really do some damage though, he made just two more birdies and a bogey the rest of the way, putting him at 14-under 196.
"It was nice to get going, nice to sort of build up that lead," Rose said. "No one seemed to do too much behind me today, so it felt like it was in my hands to try and get as far ahead as I could. Obviously, that's the only thing, I kind of struggled toward the end. It was so hot out there I really felt I was battling the golf course and my concentration.
"It was kind of tough to finish that off in that heat I found today. All in all, happy to be in the clubhouse, good day's work."
Rose will have to beat the heat again on Sunday in Fort Worth, with temperatures expected to be in the high 90s again. For the 14th time in his career, he holds a 54-hole lead or co-lead, something he's converted on just three times.
"You're kind of caught between trying to play great and also go out there and not make mistakes," he said. "For me it's just going to be about one shot at a time, to make birdies here. I feel like there's a score in this golf course. So I've got to expect the chasing pack to go out there and play well, I don't think I can just rest on my laurels and shoot even par tomorrow."
Among that chasing pack is the reigning U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, who will play in the final group with Rose on Sunday after posting a three-under 67, a round made all the more impressive by Koepka's ability to bounce back after a double-bogey at the par-5 11th. Birdies at 12, 14 and a 16-footer at the 18th saved his round, and have him tied for second with Emiliano Grillo at 10-under 200.
Rahm and Conners are joined at eight under by Louis Oosthuizen, J.T. Poston and Ryan Armour.