x

Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Justin Rose returns to No 1 after successfully defending Turkish Airlines Open title

Englishman held off Haotong Li in a play-off to retain a title for this first time in his career, and will now head to Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship

Justin Rose is all smiles after winning the Turkish Airlines Open on Sunday. Getty Images
Justin Rose is all smiles after winning the Turkish Airlines Open on Sunday. Getty Images

Justin Rose will fully celebrate his second spell as world No 1 after capping an extraordinary run of golf with the first successful title defence of his career in the Turkish Airlines Open on Sunday.

Rose, 38, defeated China's Haotong Li on the first play-off hole after the pair had finished tied on 17 under par following a nervy finish at the Regnum Carya Resort.

Rose spent two weeks as world No 1 earlier this season after losing out to Keegan Bradley in a play-off for the BMW Championship, but had been determined to get back to the summit in style with a second consecutive victory in Turkey.

_____________

Read more:

Dustin Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood confirm returns to Abu Dhabi in 2019

Race to Dubai top 5: Best buddies Molinari and Fleetwood lead pack

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA elevated to Rolex Series status

_____________

"It's taken me 20 years to defend a title so that's great," said Rose, who has won five times and recorded 24 top-10 finishes in his past 31 events.

"Maybe I haven't won enough tournaments to give myself enough opportunities to defend, but to do it back-to-back is very special.

"I was very keenly aware of losing the play-off to Keegan and my play-off record of late hasn't been great. I really wanted to buck that trend. Being world No 1 doesn't make you one under par on the first tee the next time you play, but it's something to be proud of for sure."

A poor finish to Saturday's third round had left Rose three behind Li at the start of the day, but a front nine of 33 and a birdie on the 10th, which he had bogeyed in the previous two rounds, was enough for a share of the lead.

Li, who in January won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, then bogeyed the 11th and Rose doubled his lead with a birdie on the 14th but Li responded with a stunning approach to the par-five 15th to set up a tap-in eagle as Rose three-putted from long range for par.

Li looked like having the chance to move in front after an excellent approach to the 16th too, but Rose produced a better one and holed from four feet after the world No 50 missed from twice the distance.

Rose's advantage was short-lived as he three-putted the 17th and Li appeared to have the upper hand on 18 when he found the green in regulation after Rose's approach came up short in a greenside bunker.

However, it was Li's turn to three-putt from long range and Rose was left with a putt for the win after a superb bunker shot, only to miss from four feet.

The players returned to the 18th for sudden-death and after Rose missed from 15 feet for birdie, Li amazingly three-putted from just nine feet to gift his opponent the title.

Rose is next in action in the UAE at the DP World Tour Championship - the final event of the European Tour's Race to Dubai - on November 15. The Olympic champion is third in the standings behind British Open winner Francesco Molinari and reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood.