Rose blooming in Illinois

Justin Rose remained in contention for his maiden victory in the United States, one stroke from the halfway lead after the second round at the BMW Championship in Illinois.

Justin Rose remained in contention for his maiden victory in the United States, one stroke from the halfway lead after the second round at the BMW Championship in Illinois.

Rose, who shot a six under-par 65 yesterday, could not back up that opening effort, but he did his chances little harm with a two-under 69 at soggy Cog Hill.

He is equal third with Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker and Camilo Villegas at eight-under 134, while Australian Aaron Baddeley and American Jonathan Byrd lead on nine-under.

“It’s nice to get back on the horse,” said Rose who missed the cut at last week’s Deutsche Bank championship. “Last week was disappointing, so it’s nice to get some confidence going straight away. I’m in the thick of it. I’ve hit some great shots the first two days.“

He never quite found top gear, his round highlighted by an unlikely eagle at the par-five 15th, his sixth hole, where he holed an 80-foot bunker shot. He also had three birdies and three bogeys on a course that played relatively easy, despite gusty winds.

Rose, who despite his lofty world number 15 ranking is still winless in the US, is one of three British players in the field, along with Ian Poulter and Luke Donald.

Poulter, who needs to finish probably no worse than second to advance to next week’s Tour Championship, faces a tall order after shooting 72 to fall seven shots behind.

Donald continued his recent struggles with a 70 to remain near the tail of the field.

Co-leader Baddeley recorded a scoring 65 said: “I’ve been hitting the ball better all year, and my misses are getting straighter,” he said. “I feel I have very good control over the shape and trajectory of my shot.”

For the second successive day, officials brought tee times forward in an effort to beat possible thunderstorms, which never happened yesterday.

However, they were not so fortunate on Friday, as barely an hour of play was possible before the skies opened, dumping more than half an inch of rain and causing a nearly three-hour suspension.

The BMW is the third of four events in the new FedEx Cup play-off series.

Seventy players qualified for the BMW Championship, although only 66 started, with Padraig Harrington and Phil Mickelson notable absentees.

The top 30 players on a points list after the BMW qualify for the Tour Championship.

Rose, at 23rd in the standings, is assured of advancing, but Donald, ranked 28th, is vulnerable.

Mickelson leads the standings from fellow Americans Stricker and Woods. Woods is in the running to win the prize awarded to the points leader after the Tour Championship, even though he skipped the first play-off event.

He has a great record at Cog Hill, winning the old Western Open three times - in 1997, 1999 and 2003.

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