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BOB HOPE CHRYSLER CLASSIC: ROSE BLOWS INTO THE LEAD.

Byline: MARK REINHILLER Staff Writer

PALM DESERT -- Golfers sometimes say playing in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic is like playing in a dome. Conditions generally are ideal in a warm, desert setting that features little wind.

That theory blew away Friday as a low-pressure system settled and brought strong breezes and unseasonably cool temperatures to all four of the Hope courses.

It didn't seem to bother England-born Justin Rose, who fired a third- round 6-under-par 66 at PGA West to grab a two-shot lead over Scott Verplank at 18-under 198.

``I think it's part of playing the West Coast, to be honest with you,'' Rose said. ``But I came prepared. You pack your beanie and you pack your mitts and you come over here.''

Rose began the day holding a share of the lead with Verplank at 12-under 130. An eagle on his second hole -- at No. 11 -- put him at 2-under, who then made the turn at 4-under for the round.

``I was fortunate I got off to a really solid start,'' Rose said. ``Got off to a great tee shot on the 10th hole -- really got my round off and running early, which I guess helped my mindset (to) think positive.''

His round included just one bogey -- the par-4, No. 16 -- with 27 putts.

But a two-shot lead with 36 holes remaining leaves little comfort for Rose, in search of his first PGA Tour victory.

``I think it's important for this tournament that you've just got to really keep your head down,'' he said. ``you play hard all days, until everybody has played every course; it's a bit of a skewed leaderboard, if you like.''

Three players -- Lucas Glover, John Rollins and first-round leader Robert Allenby -- are five shots behind Rose at 13 under. Charley Hoffman is sixth at 12under.

Two-time champion Phil Mickelson faded away from the leaderboard. Poor putting resulted in a 69 for Lefty, who stands at 7-under total, 11 shots behind Rose and tied for 41st.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Justin Rose, watching his tee shot at No. 2, finished with a 6-under 66 Friday to take a two-shot lead after three rounds.

Chris Carlson/Associated Press
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 20, 2007
Words:363
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