It was more of a stumble back to the world No.1 spot rather than a surge but when you’re drinking the celebratory champagne, it doesn’t really matter how you get the cork out of the bottle.
A captivating, head-scratching finale to the Turkish Airlines Open, which seemed to have more ding-dong than a bell tower, ended with Rose nabbing the prize and that lofty perch on the global order as the Englishman successfully defended a title for the first time in his career with a play-off victory over the hapless Haotong Li.
Nothing comes easy in this game and Rose certainly had to chisel this one out after finishing locked at the top with Li on a 17-under aggregate. He made a bit of a hash of the 18th when he missed a slippery three-footer to win the title after Li had three-putted.
But Li then made an ever bigger mess of the 18th when the duo played it again in the sudden-death shoot-out. Rose had missed a birdie putt of some 12 feet and, from just inside him, his Chinese rival, who is the same management company, had a putt of his own to plunder his third European Tour crown.
Fortunes can change quickly in this unpredictable pursuit, of course. The 23-year-old raced his first effort some three-feet past the hole and then, remarkably and agonisingly, dunted the next one wide of the cup.
Within seconds, he had gone from staring at victory to staring at the heavens in anguish. Rose’s face said it all. It probably wasn’t the way he would have wanted to win it. But a win’s a win eh?
When Rose first elevated himself to the world No.1 position in September, he did it despite losing a play-off in the BMW Championship.
“Last time it was muted because I was still so mad at not winning the tournament but this time I’ve got a kind of double winning feeling, so it might be a bit more fun to celebrate it at this time,” said Rose who has won five times and recorded 24 top-10 finishes in his last 31 events. “I do have to spare a thought for Haotong. That’s a tough way to finish.”
Rose had trailed overnight pacesetter Li by three shots heading into the closing round at the Regnum Carya resort but he chipped away at that deficit and, having picked up a couple of shots on his first 10 holes, the 38-year-old inched ahead when Li sagged to his second bogey of the day on 11.
It seemed Rose had struck a decisive blow with a birdie on 14 to move two clear but Li is made of stern stuff and he was handsomely rewarded for his bold sense of adventure on the 15th.
From the semi-rough, Li managed to hook a raking effort round a distant tree, over the water and to within tap-in distance for a brave and spectacular eagle. Rose, meanwhile, three-putted from 50 feet and all of a sudden things were level-pegging.
The nip-and-tuck nature of the tussle continued as Rose responded with vigour on the 16th with another birdie to move ahead, but a slack approach into the 17th and another trio of stabs with the putter allowed Li to grab a share of the lead again.
The 18th hole would then decide the outcome . . . at the second attempt.
The 18th hole would then decide the outcome. At the second attempt.
Source : HeraldScotland