Rollercoaster ride for Rose

Title-chasing Justin Rose hit back from an appalling start and remained the man to beat in the Volvo Masters at Valderrama today.

Title-chasing Justin Rose hit back from an appalling start and remained the man to beat in the Volvo Masters at Valderrama today.

Four strokes clear of Order of Merit rival Padraig Harrington overnight, Rose lost that advantage in the first two holes of his third round.

But the 27-year-old settled down, Harrington began making mistakes himself and when Rose sank a 30-foot putt on the 10th he was three clear and looking good again.

The pair stood three under and level par respectively and remained in first and second place.

When Open champion Harrington hooked into the trees off the first tee and Rose hit a beauty right down the middle the odds were on the latter stretching his lead.

But where Harrington’s ball finished in the rough left him with an eight-foot gap in the branches of a tree directly in front of him, he hit the shot to 15 feet and made the birdie putt.

Rose, on the other hand, made a mess of his pitch and his chip from just off the green and failed to sink his nine-foot par putt.

Worse was to come for Rose, who has to finish ahead of Harrington and be in the top three to overtake both him and table-topping Ernie Els on the money list.

Off another decent drive down the 421-yard second he failed to find the green once more and left his first chip short of the putting surface.

His next attempt came up 12 feet short and when that missed a double bogey six went on his card and the pair were level.

Harrington, defending the crown he won last year by finishing second in the same event, also has to finish third this time to move ahead of the absent Els, but for him that will be enough if Rose is alongside him.

It was the worst possible start to the day for Rose, who for all his rise to 12th in the world this year has not actually won a tournament since last November’s Australian Masters.

Things became even more dramatic on the long fourth. Rose pushed his drive and with his second shot was inches away from going in the lake.

Harrington was then heading into the water himself but his ball hit a rock and flew off to the right about 60 yards back onto dry land.

The Irishman was in deep rough, though, and from there he flopped his next into the lake. While Rose scrambled his par five Harrington had to sink an eight-footer for a bogey six.

That was forgotten when he sank a 20-footer at the next to level again, but Harrington missed the green on the seventh and bogeyed, then watched as Rose converted a six-foot chance at the next and holed from five times as far two holes later.

With three birdies in his first six holes Yorkshire’s Simon Dyson held a share of top spot for a while, but he bogeyed four of the next five before coming back with two more birdies.

That put Dyson in a tie for third with Dane Soren Kjeldsen, while tied for fifth were German rookie Martin Kaymer after his best-of-the-week 66, Colin Montgomerie, Graeme McDowell and Jyoti Randhawa.

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