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Justin Rose speaks to the media ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
Justin Rose speaks to the media ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Rose looks to narrow gap on top two with another strong performance in UAE

Just weeks after his narrow lost to Rory McIlroy on the Road to Dubai, Justin Rose hopes to pick up where he finished 2012 and close the gap on his rivals in Abu Dhabi.

Justin Rose believes he can build on his strong finish to 2012 and close the gap between himself and world ranking leaders Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.

The 32-year-old Englishman just lost out in a thrilling final day at the DP World Tour Championship to Ryder Cup teammate McIlroy, and has elected to open his 2013 campaign back in the UAE at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

The world's top two players, who have been paired together for the opening round, head a competitive field - and Rose relishes the opportunity to have an early crack at the game's two biggest stars.

"I think status is something I'm a long way from but I believe my game is not that far at all," he said on Wednesday.

"I'm very happy with my skill set. I'm very happy that I can close the gap or hopefully make the gap disappear with some hard work and just continue what I'm doing.

"I know what I need to improve and I know how I'm going to do it and I back myself and I feel comfortable standing up in that situation now and believing that I have the tools and the skills to compete."

Rose's roller-coaster career since making his breakthrough as 17-year-old amateur at the 1998 British Open saw him take time to get to grips with the demands of the professional game, but the last year sparked a resurgence that saw him ranked fourth in the world, defeated McIlroy and Woods in Turkey and finish second in the season-ending Race to Dubai.

"So, there's three very positive experiences on which I can draw," he said.

"I now begin to trust. I don't need to do anything different to, one, put myself into contention and, two, I trust my processes enough now to believe that I can deliver under pressure."

Rose will set off on Thursday in the company of British Open champion Ernie Els and Abu Dhabi defending champion Robert Rock.

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