PALM HARBOR, Fla. – While most of the eyes will be on Tiger Woods during the final round of the Valspar Championship, it’ll be a different major winner holding down the final tee time alongside 54-hole leader Corey Conners.
Conners sits one shot clear of a trio of big names: Woods, Brandt Snedeker and Justin Rose. Because Rose was the first player to post an 8-under 205 total, he’ll be in the final pairing while Woods and Snedeker will play together in the penultimate group for the second straight day.
Rose started the third round three shots behind Conners, and he was still four back at the turn. But he caught up quickly on the inward half, holing out from 120 yards for eagle on the par-5 11th and adding two more birdies coming home to close out a 5-under 66.
“I was kind of getting a little frustrated, seeing the scores were decent. I needed something to happen,” Rose said. “I putted really, really well on the back nine. Every putt I had, I thought would go in. Fun day.”
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Unlike Conners, Rose has plenty of experience handling the massive crowds that line the fairways whenever Woods is in the field. While he described Saturday’s atmosphere at Innisbrook as “electric,” he’s also glad to have a spot in Sunday’s final pairing – and a vantage point to keep an eye on Woods a few hundred yards ahead.
“I think the way it works best is if you’re either with him or behind it,” he said. “Playing in the group in front of him is probably the toughest because everyone is trying to gain a vantage point. I’ll either be with him tomorrow, or the group behind him. Should work out well.”
Rose closed out last year in a flurry, winning three times in his final six worldwide starts. Although he has been slow out of the gates while playing sparingly in 2018, the Englishman plans to draw a little extra confidence from his late-season run that finished just four months ago.
“Funny, in golf it feels like a long time ago I won. Obviously, it’s not. I really remember that and all those good feelings,” Rose said. “The key to winning tomorrow is the guy that goes out there and respects this golf course, takes his chances when they come and commits to the shot. That’s basically how I’m going about it as far forward as the first tee.”