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Rose and Haas lead going into weekend at Bay Hill
Saturday - 3/23/2013, 3:57am EDT
AP Golf Writer
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Justin Rose no longer has the lead all to himself at Bay Hill, though he remained four shots clear of defending champion Tiger Woods.
He's just not sure how.
Rose played alongside the seven-time Bay Hill winner and if not for seeing scores on a card, he had reason to believe Woods would have been right up there with the leaders, if not ahead of them, in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
"I thought he was probably a couple of shots away from shooting 64 today at times," Rose said.
So what happened?
Woods hit two balls into the water. He missed two birdie putts from 3 feet. He finished with three straight bogeys.
Walking through the parking lot at Bay Hill, away from the public's view, Woods removed his cap and slapped it against his thigh. He was one shot out of the lead with three holes to play, and made bogey on all three of them for a 2-under 70 to fall four shots behind Rose and Bill Haas.
Even so, there was some hope amid the clouds that dumped rain on Bay Hill late Friday afternoon. If he had all that go wrong, something must be going right.
"The good news is we've got 36 holes to go," Woods said. "We've got a long way to go. And certainly, four shots can be made up."
Rose (70) and Haas (66) were at 9-under 135.
Haas played in the morning and found redemption from Thursday, when he went bogey-bogey -- the last one a three-putt from 8 feet on the 18th hole -- to make a good round feel a lot worse. He picked up birdies on the 12th and 13th holes, made an eagle on the par-5 16th and was on his way to a 6-under 66.
"So to leave, basically giving two away, my goal today was try to get those two back and go from there," Haas said. "That was kind of my mindset today, and then I was able to keep it going."
So clean was this round that Haas missed only three greens in regulation and his longest putt for par was no more than 4 feet. Most surprising about the round is that Haas loves playing Bay Hill, but Bay Hill has never loved him back. He has respect for the tournament host, and a connection from Wake Forest. But in his previous five trips to this tournament, he had only one round in the 60s. Plus, he still has a sore neck from a month ago that has become a nuisance.
"Mr. Palmer is there when you walk off the 18th green," Haas said. "He's there early when I finished, and he's always saying, 'Thanks for coming, and I'm glad you're here.' I'm always saying, 'I really would like to play better and see you later.' It just feels nice to do well.
"No matter what happens this weekend, to shoot two good rounds and hopefully get to speak with him about it would be pretty special."
That's still a long way off, with plenty of people still in the mix.
Sixteen players were separated by five shots going into the weekend, and the question was how much fire the downpour would take out of Bay Hill.
Ken Duke (68), J.J. Henry (67) and Jim Walker (69) were at 6-under 138. Woods was right behind, along with Mark Wilson and Vijay Singh, who each shot 68. Rickie Fowler had a 67 and joined the large group at 4-under 140.
Rose has looked steady from the start, though there was one moment his round could have gone either way. As he lined up a 15-foot birdie putt on the 13th, thinking it might move slightly to the left, he heard a spectator behind him yelling, "It goes right." Suddenly, it became a mind game.
Rose thought it was going just like he saw until it moved left at the last minute. He whirled and pointed his putter at the fan, more bemused than annoyed.
"It's just one of those annoying moments where you're having to then battle someone who planted a seed," he said. "And I hit a great putt that's in the middle with 4 feet to go and it goes left of the hole."
Where he did get fooled was on the 18th, after a brief downpour. Rose was closing out his round in fashion, with a two-putt birdie from the fringe on the 16th, a pure shot behind the hole on the 17th, another good one over the water on the 18th to about 25 feet behind the hole. He thought it might not be as fast as usual because of the rain, but his putt ran out 5 feet and Rose missed that for a three-putt bogey.