CROMWELL—— Justin Rose is in front of the Travelers Championship because of his domination of the back.
Rose recorded five consecutive birdies on Nos. 11-15 and shot an 8-under-par 62 Friday in the second round at TPC River Highlands.
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Vijay Singh (66), Bill Lunde (63), Corey Pavin (66) and Charlie Wi (67 ) are tied for third at 131.
"The first two days this week, everything is going my way, especially on holes 10-18," Rose said. "I'm killing the back nine, but I'm not trying to. It's an amazing run."
His birdies at 11-15 after starting on No. 10 Friday followed a five-birdie run at 13-17 Thursday, when he carded a 64 to share the first-round lead.
"From just cruising, suddenly I went to the top of the leaderboard just like that," he said.
The last time a player made five straight birdies in consecutive days on the PGA Tour was Todd Fischer in rounds two and three of the 2005 Reno-Tahoe Open.
Rose's 126 broke the tournament record for the first 36 holes, the 127 by Tim Norris at Wethersfield Country Club in 1982. Brad Faxon shot 126 over the final 36 holes to win in 2005 at the TPC, including a closing 61 to tie the course record.
Sutherland has played in every tour event at TPC River Highlands since 1996. His 130 score is his best in Cromwell, but after making four birdies in his final nine holes (Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 9), he was still four shots behind Rose.
If Sutherland hadn't birdied the ninth, Rose would have had a five-shot lead, and that would have tied the tournament record held by Tommy Bolt (1954) and Gene Littler ('59), who both won.
"When I saw Justin shot the score he did [in the morning], I wasn't that surprised," said Sutherland, who teed off in the afternoon. "But obviously, it puts a lot of pressure on everybody else."
Rose, whose first PGA Tour victory came at the Memorial June 6, began his round with a par at 10. Then came the birdies: a 5-footer at 11, 8-footer at 12, a tap-in at 13, a 10-footer at 14 and a tap-in at 15.
He almost had an eagle at the par-5 13th, where his 3-wood chip from the left fringe lipped out. He also almost made an eagle at the par-4 15th, where his 25-yard sand shot rolled over the edge of the cup. He called it his "shot of the day."
"It probably was a do-or-die kind of shot," he said of the approach on the sloping green. "Hit it close or struggle for a par."
He added birdies at 2, 3 and 9 to conclude his bogey-free round.
Are there worthy challengers for Rose from among Sutherland, Singh, Pavin, Lunde, Wi or someone else from the 77 players who made the cut of 2-under 138?
Lunde posted the second-lowest score of the second round with his 63. The highlights were an eagle at 13, where he rolled in a 20-foot putt, and another at 15, where he chipped in from the left of the green.
Like Rose, he excelled on the back nine. Lunde, who quit the game in 2005-07 after struggling on the Nationwide Tour, had a 30 Friday on the back, his first nine holes.
"It just got me off to a quick start, got the momentum going early and I tried to keep it going, and I was able to do that," said Lunde, whose lone pro victory was the 2008 Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational.
Singh opened with birdies of 7 and 8 feet on the first two holes.
"I'm not putting too much pressure on my putts, and they're rolling well," said Singh, who converted 18 of 23 putts inside of 10 feet. "So that would be my strong point right now, my putting."
Every aspect of Rose's game has been strong. But he wants no repeat of 2005, when Faxon charged past him for the championship, beating Tjaart van der Walt in a playoff. Today, like five years ago, Rose has a four-shot lead.
In '05, he was ahead of Ben Curtis and Sutherland. "It was a nice little lead and I played steadily on the weekend," Rose said of his 70-69 finish.
He missed the playoff by one stroke.
Rose's goal today and Sunday?
"It's about knowing that you've got to keep moving forward," he said.