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Rose surges to lead at Travelers Championship

By John Nestor

CROMWELL, Connecticut (Reuters) - Briton Justin Rose had another five-birdie run at TPC River Highlands and opened up a four-shot lead at the Travelers Championship on Friday.

Rose started the day part of a four-way tie for the lead but carded his first birdie of the round at the par-four 11th and went on to birdie the next four holes.

Three more birdies on his back nine gave Rose a bogey-free round of eight-under-par 62 and a 36-hole total of 14-under 126.

Rose's score ties the tournament record for best 36-hole total set by Brad Faxon in rounds three and four in 2005.

It also breaks the previous tournament record for best first 36-hole score, eclipsing Tim Norris's 127 at Wethersfield Country Club in 1982. Both Faxon and Norris went on to win.

Even with his fast start, Rose is taking nothing for granted.

"I just know it's not about where you are on Friday, it's about knowing that you got to keep moving forward," said Rose, who also had five successive birdies during Thursday's opening round.

"For the first two days this week, everything has gone my way."

American Kevin Sutherland shot his second consecutive bogey-free 65 and is alone in second at 10-under 130.

Sutherland is looking for his second PGA Tour victory and his first in a stroke-play event. His lone victory came at the 2002 World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.

STRANGE YEAR

He started the season with a pair of top-15 finishes and his lone top-10 this year came in New Orleans in April.

"This year hasn't gone as I would have hoped. It's been a strange year," Sutherland said. "I don't think I've played badly, but my play hasn't necessarily resulted in much in the way of results."

Vijay Singh, Bill Lunde, Charlie Wi and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin are at nine-under 131. Singh and Pavin each shot 66 and Wi a 67 while Lunde nearly matched Rose, shooting a 63.

"I played a really solid round of golf," Singh said. "I'm driving the ball better now and putting nicely."

Lunde's round included a bogey at the 12th that he followed up with an eagle at the par-five 13th and another at the par-four 15th.

"That's something about this golf course on the back nine, you get some opportunities to make some eagles and make a lot of birdies," Lunde said. "It's nice to get off to a quick start."

Australian Matt Jones is at eight-under 132 and Steve Elkington and former British Open winner Ben Curtis are in a group of five at seven-under.

Defending champion Kenny Perry shot a 68 and is three-under for the tournament.

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg)