Winning Rose sets his sights on McIlroy


WORLD GOLF FINAL:ON A beautifully hot day, the story of a cold putter: Lee Westwood – whose putter was as obedient as a circus dog performing tricks in shooting a 61 in Thursday’s semi-final – was usurped by a stubbornly cold blade and an intractable opponent in fellow-Englishman Justin Rose in the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final over the Sultan course in Antalya yesterday.

Rose shot a 66 to Westwood’s 67 in the medal strokeplay format to close out the final, and barely had the putts fallen on the 18th green than both were targeting Rory McIlroy’s lead in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai which enters a defining period over the coming weeks with big-money tournaments in Asia before the finale in Dubai.

“I’d like to give Rory a run for the Race to Dubai. He has got a little bit of a lead on me and he is playing a lot of golf now as well. So he’s going to be tough to catch. If I can continue to push the top end of the leaderboard, I’ll give myself a chance. That would be fun,” said Rose, who trails the Northern Irishman by just under €500,000 on that order of merit.

Likewise, albeit with much greater ground to make up, Westwood was gung-ho after an impressive return to play after the Ryder Cup endeavours.

“I think I am something like 21 under after five rounds (in Turkey) so it is a good way to refocus for the rest of the year. I have five massive tournaments left. If I play well and keep this form up for a couple of weeks in China and in Dubai then I might have a sniff of the order of merit. It’s one of the objectives. I have only won twice this year so I’d like to win more tournaments before the year is out,” said Westwood.

For Rose, who is building a holiday home in the Bahamas, these past few weeks have been gold-digging ones as his clubs have netted him almost €3 million, taking in his runner-up finish in the Tour Championship (and its bonus pool) on the US Tour and, now, this win in a tournament used as the precursor to a big-money Turkish Open next year and possibly a bid for the Ryder Cup down the line.

Even Rose was left shaking his head at the riches and rewards his golf has given him, making the point that it probably took him up to seven years to accumulate the same prize-money he has reaped from the Tour Championship and here in Turkey.

“Two weeks, seven years . . . it is stupid, isn’t it? But there were a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into it,” said Rose of building up from a start to his professional career where he missed 21 consecutive cuts.

The player then and now are vastly different, as testified by his game yesterday where he assumed the lead with a birdie on the opening hole and never relinquished it. Westwood missed a series of short putts – on the ninth, 13th and 14th – which hampered him, but seemed to have received a lifeline on the par-five 16th where his approach shot hung on the bank of a hazard and he got up and down for a birdie to reduce the deficit to one.

However, Rose rolled in a 20-footer for birdie on the 17th to re-establish a two-shot lead and a par to Westwood’s birdie on the 18th got him over the line.

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