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Rose blooms early in the Sunshine State after finishing brightly

Justin Rose last night moved into a share of the lead at the Valspar Championship after he scored a three under-par 68 on day two at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor.

Justin Rose reacts after missing a putt on the seventh green during the second round of the Valspar Championship but would recover to assume a share of the lead in Florida. Picture: Chris O'Meara/AP
Justin Rose reacts after missing a putt on the seventh green during the second round of the Valspar Championship but would recover to assume a share of the lead in Florida. Picture: Chris O'Meara/AP

The 33-year-old Englishman started on the back nine and made immediate inroads in Florida with a birdie at the 10th, while he picked up further shots at the 14th, first and fifth holes. Two bogeys would be cause for some frustration before Rose recovered to finish his round with a birdie to ensure he was one of six competitors at the top of the leaderboard.

Last year's US Open champion, Rose is level with Americans Pat Perez, Robert Garrigus, Michael Putnam and Matt Every, as well as 20-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero on three under-par overall.

Rose could retire to the clubhouse looking for a refreshment, although he was not the only one who could afford to be in a relaxed mood in Florida. Russell Knox - the Inverness-born player who is now based in the Sunshine State - was last night one over after round two and walked off the course with a tie of 34th. The Scot had scored par in a comfortable first round and would drop a shot last night as in a round which comprised birdies on the third, fourth and 17th.

His chances of settling higher up the leaderboard were, though, affected by bogeys on the fifth, 16th and the last, while there Knox also dropped two shots on the sixth.

He is joined in 34th place by Luke Donald of England, who also finished one-over overall after the second day of play. That will likely be a cause for some frustration since Donald had been one under after his opening six holes of the day.

Elsewhere, Jim Furyk is among six players at two under overall when he followed up a level-par round on Thursday with a two-under 69.

It was the sort of score which Marc Warren would have given his favourite putter for following a disappointing second round in the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco. He remains the leading Scot in the lead but that might have felt like a more prodigious title had it not been for a round of one over on the second day.

Knox had finished on six-under in his first round but a double-bogey seven on the fifth hole and further bogeys at the 11th and 15th disrupted his earlier rhythm. That left the Scot tied for 14th place, while compatriots David Drysdale is a shot further back in joint-20th and Richie Ramsay is one under overall but tied for 37th.

Craig Lee, Jack Doherty, Alastair Forsyth and Jamie McLeary were all Scots on the wrong side of the projected cut last night.

Their misfortune will have seemed of little consequence to Alejandro Canizares and Seve Benson, though, as they continue to joust for the lead at the top of the leaderboard in north Africa. Canizares holds a one-shot advantage over Benson in Agadir, the Spaniard carding 11 birdies and one bogey in an impressive round.

n Marian Stackhouse, a second-year student at Stanford University, has become the first African-American player to be named to the United States Curtis Cup team since the biennial matches against Great Britain & Ireland began in the 1930s, writes Colin Farquharson.

The match will take place at St Louis Country Club on June 6-8, with Stackhouse a notable selection. GB & I - who defend the trophy won at Nairn Golf Club in June 2012 - comprises automatic selections from the World Amateur Rankings and the Ladies Golf Union Order of Merit.

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