LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) – Justin Rose dropped his putter, put his hands on his knees and dropped his head. He paused, looked up and managed a wry smile, knowing just how close he came to shooting a 59 on Thursday.

Rose missed a 14-foot birdie putt on No. 18, leaving him a stroke away from matching the PGA Tour record shared by Al Geiberger (1977), Chip Beck (1991) and David Duval (1999). The 26-year-old Englishman settled for a 12-under 60, course and tournament records, and a four-stroke lead Thursday in the Funai Classic at Disney.

“I did everything right to shoot 59,” Rose said. “All I wanted to do was have a putt at 59.”

He had one. It was pretty much straight, too.

Rose hit a 6-iron from 190 yards on the 433-yard 18th. The ball bounced 6 inches from the hole, rolled past and stopped near the fringe. Rose tipped his hat several times as he walked toward the green and couldn’t stop smiling. He lined up the putt from both sides, took two practice swings, then pulled it just left.

After his initial reaction, he tapped in for his best round ever on the PGA Tour, three shots better than his previous low set in the 2002 Deutsche Bank Championship and matched in the 2004 Canadian Open.

Richard Johnson was alone in second place, four shots back. Tag Ridings, Steve Flesch, Bob Tway, Charles Howell III and J.J. Henry were five strokes behind Rose. Howell’s 65 may have been the most impressive considering he played the much tougher Magnolia Course. The others, including Rose and Johnson, played the Palm Course – the easiest course on tour last year by nearly a full stroke.

Howell will play the Palm in the second round Friday, while Rose and the rest of the leaders move to the Mag, which played about a stroke and a half tougher than the Palm on Thursday.

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