DP World Tour Championship: Justin Rose to keep it simple in pursuit of Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood
He is 256,737 points behind fellow Englishman and needs to finish no worse than solo fifth to have any chance of clinching European Tour's order of merit award
Rested and reenergised, Justin Rose seems to have set himself up nicely for one final push in the Race to Dubai.
Sitting second in the season-long standings, he arrives at this week's campaign-concluding DP World Tour Championship off the back of some downtime and practice back home in the Bahamas.
He chose not to contest the Nedbank Golf Challenge, the 2017 calendar's penultimate event, in South Africa last week. Having won back-to-back on the European Tour’s two previous stops, Rose knew he had done enough to come into Dubai with Race leader Tommy Fleetwood still very much in his sights.
And he appears perfectly content with that.
“I’ve arrived here in Dubai fresh, ready to go and excited,” the Englishman said on Wednesday. “Those are the main ingredients for playing well. You can never guarantee a good week, but the recipe is in place to continue what I’ve done the past few weeks.”
He is 256,737 points behind Fleetwood and needs to finish no worse than solo fifth to have any chance of clinching the crown. Provided his compatriot does not register a third victory of the season, solo second would guarantee a second Order or Merit title.
However, despite the Earth course being “really one of my favourite places to play golf” - Rose has twice finished runner-up at Jumeirah Golf Estates - he concedes Fleetwood remains favourite.
“I still take Tommy's chances,” Rose said. “His lead is significant. It means I've got to play well. All I wanted to come in here thinking was that, if I win, I didn't want to be too far behind Tommy. That if he finished second, I still couldn't win. So in some ways controlling my destiny from that point of view is important to me.
“I like the fact that I don't have to think about anybody else. Maybe Tommy does: there's more scenarios in play that way, whereas for me I can just focus on playing good golf and get to the top of the leaderboard. That's as simple as I'm trying to keep it this week.”
That is as far as Rose would go in amping up the pressure on Fleetwood. The pair are not just competitors but friends, too, with Rose saying the two speak on a weekly basis.
Given the tournament draw follows the Race standings, Rose and Fleetwood are off together on Thursday, getting their first round under way at 12:40pm.
“There will be no sort of rivalry or intimidation-type tactics tomorrow,” Rose said. “It will be just the first round of four. My objective is to go out there and try to hit good shots and enjoy playing well. I’ve been playing well, and just to continue that momentum.
"That's my goal for Thursday.”
The overarching target, though, is to land the Order of Merit for the first time since 2007. Back then, Rose won the season’s final event at Valderrama in a play-off to overtake Ernie Els and be crowned Europe's No 1 golfer.
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The 2013 US Open champion, he regards it as “still one of my biggest achievements in the game”. Yet losing narrowly this week, after choosing to sit out South Africa, would not particularly rankle either.
“I would say so be it,” he said. “I've given it a great run here towards the end. I've had tough losses in the past, and you absorb it and you move on. It's part of golf.
"I won't second-guess anything. Certainly won't second-guess my schedule. It's just the way it is.
“End of the day, to win the Race to Dubai, I have to contend in this tournament one way or another. I need to finish towards the top end of the leaderboard, and if you're going to finish at the top end of the leaderboard, you may as well focus on trying to win the tournament."
Updated: November 15, 2017 03:15 PM