Belek – Justin Rose is determined to make his reign as the new world number one a long one after capturing a play-off victory in the Turkish Airlines Open on Sunday.
Rose defeated China’s No.1 Haotong Li at the first extra play-off hole when the 23-year Shanghai-born golfer three-putted for bogey to hand the Englishman his 19th pro career victory.
The win is also the first time in Rose’s career he has successfully defended a title.
“I’ve had some pressure-packed Sundays of late and dare I say, kind of coming way with consolation prizes in a way,” said Rose.
“I went first to World No. 1 after losing in a play-off, finishing fourth at the Tour Championship but winning the FedExCup.
“The FedExCup was an interesting one because I knew exactly what I had to do and I was playing a tournament within a tournament.
“But to not having that winning feeling in a tournament but still coming away with accolades. I was keenly aware I wanted to get back in the winner’s circle and it was good to get it done today.
“There’s always a moving target, isn’t it, so you never quite get anywhere. It’s a journey; life’s a journey, not a destiny and all these beautiful clichs we try to live by.
“Of course, there will be another opportunity to either go further ahead, or Brooks (Koepka) will have an opportunity or DJ (Dustin Johnsono) will have another opportunity to go back to No. 1 if they win.
“But then it would be lovely to end the year at No. 1 and it will be nice to have Christmas turkey at No. 1, of course. I’m not going to stress about it to be honest with you.”
Li went into the final round leading by three shots and after a level par 71 ended regulation play tied with Rose on 17-under par but with Rose bogeying his closing two holes, including missing his par putt at the final hole for victory lipping-out in a round of 68.
Li had capped his round with a tap-in eagle putt at the par-5 15th but he also three-putted the last for a bogey.
The win lifts Rose to third on the Tour’s Race to Dubai and while the Englishman mathematically could still win the No. 1 crown he has disappointed the Tour with a decision not to contest the remaining two events.
Instead Rose will again tee-up in the Tiger Woods hosted Hero World Challenge commencing on November 26 in the Bahamas while he also intends to defend his Indonesian Masters title on the Asian Tour starting on December 13.
“As of now, I am playing the Hero at home, try to roll out of bed for that one, and Indonesia,” he said.
“I have also a few other things I need to take care of.”
Li was looking to create Tour history in becoming the first Chinese golfer to win twice in a single European Tour season and while finishing runner-up, he looks assured of being just outside the top-40 on the World Rankings.
It should also ensure Li earns a second straight invitation at the end of the year to contest the 2019 Masters at Augusta National.
“It was tough day for me honestly and I holed a couple chances, but not until the end, the first playoff, I saw that ball definitely go in, but a little bit too much,” he said.
“I was a pretty good last round, especially against Rosey, and he is such a nice guy. Hopefully next time I can play better.”
Leading scores after Sunday’s completed final round of the EPGA Turkish Airlines Open at Regnum Caya Resort, Belek, Turkey (par-71):
267 – Justin Rose (ENG) 65-65-69-68, Haotong Li (CHN) 66-67-63-71
Play-off – Rose won on first extra hole
269 – Adrian Otaegui (ESP) 68-65-71-65, Thomas Detry (BEL) 66-70-68-65
270 – Martin Kaymer (GER) 66-69-69-66, Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN) 70-67-66-67
271 – Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 68-66-68-69, Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN) 65-67-68-71, Danny Willett (ENG) 67-65-69-70
272 – Tapio Pulkkanen (FIN) 68-70-67-67, Sam Horsfield (ENG) 66-67-68-71, Alexander Levy (FRA) 67-66-66-73, Thomas Aiken (RSA) 71-65-66-70
273 – Alexnder Bjork (SWE) 73-69-65-66, Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL) 69-66-70-68, Shane Lowry (IRE) 68-70-67-68, Tom Lewis (ENG) 69-63-71-70
274 – Andy Sullivan (ENG) 72-68-66-68, Thomas Pieters (BEL) 75-69-62-68, Pablo Larrazabal (ESP) 68-69-68-69, Matthias Schwab (DEN) 69-69-67-69, Paul Dunne (IRE) 64-71-69-70