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Rose plummets down leaderboard
Justin Rose has seen his hopes of a second major title in the space of two months suffer a potentially fatal blow as Oak Hill finally bared its teeth in the US PGA Championship.
But Lee Westwood and defending champion Rory McIlroy were right back in contention as halfway leader Jason Dufner also fell foul of a tough opening stretch in the final major of the year.
Rose began the third round three shots off the lead and looking to join golfing legends Gene Sarazen (1922), Ben Hogan (1948), Jack Nicklaus (1980) and Tiger Woods (2000) as the only men to win the US Open and US PGA in the same year.
But the 33-year-old Englishman dropped six shots in the space of four holes to plummet down the leaderboard, making a bogey at the second and a double bogey on the third after missing the green off the tee and then three-putting.
Rose, winner of the US Open at Merion in June, dropped another shot at the par-five fourth and then saw his approach to the fifth spin back into the water to cost him two more shots.
At level par he was nine shots off the pace until Dufner, who had equalled the lowest score in major history with a 63 yesterday, also took six on the fifth after driving into a water hazard.
That brought a number of players right back into contention, including Westwood who had dropped three shots in the last two holes of his second round 73 to start the day eight off the lead.
Westwood, still seeking a first major title at the 63rd attempt after letting a two-shot lead slip going into the final round of the Open, carded three birdies and one bogey to reach the turn in 33.
The 40-year-old then dropped a shot at the 11th but birdied the 12th and 14th to improve to four under and within three shots of the lead.
McIlroy had been heading for a second consecutive missed cut in major championships when he stood five over for 11 holes of his second round on Friday, but the former world number one birdied four of the next six to finish level par.
He was still level for the tournament after 12 holes but birdied the 13th, holed from 50ft for another on the 17th and then chipped in on the 18th to card a 67 and set the clubhouse target on three under.
"I probably made up at least three, three and a half shots on those last two holes," said McIlroy, who has been watching videos of his eight-shot win last year for inspiration after carding just one top-three finish so far in 2013. His victory at Kiawah Island was one of five in 2012.
"It's getting there. It was good to feel the sort of rush again. I felt it a bit in San Antonio this year (where he finished second to Martin Laird). Making a birdie on 17 is like an eagle and then to follow it up with another on the last is even better.
"I knew they were going to toughen the golf course up today. I sort of thought two 65s would still have a chance, 10 under par. But the way the conditions are with the swirling wind, it's tricky out there. I felt like I still had a chance.
"Every time I'm in that position I just think back to Quail Hollow a few years ago and what I did on the weekend there (winning with rounds of 66 and 62). It gives me a bit confidence knowing that I've been in that position before and I've been able to win.
"I know this is a major championship and it's a bit different, but I felt good enough about my game that I could go out there and post a good one today and at least give myself a chance going into tomorrow."
Asked if he knew that the leaders had been struggling, McIlroy added: "Yes, very aware. I'm going to enjoy watching this afternoon."
Westwood bogeyed the 15th but parred the last three holes to card a 68 and join McIlroy in the clubhouse on three under, although that was three behind playing partner Jonas Blixt.
Blixt carded four birdies in a flawless 66, the last of which came on the 18th after his tee shot had flown straight into a spectator's trouser pocket. From there Blixt received a free drop - "I'm just glad it wasn't plugged," he joked - and hit a five-iron approach to three feet.
"All in all it was very good," Westwood said of his round. "I figured somewhere around 67 might give me a chance going into tomorrow. Another Sunday at a major, another chance."
The bad news for Westwood was that the leaders had settled down after their early struggles, with Jim Furyk making birdies on the eighth, 10th and 12th to take the lead on nine under, one ahead of Dufner who had followed a birdie on the seventh with a bogey on the eighth and birdie on the 10th.