Justin Rose defends Turkish Airlines Open title to reclaim world No 1 ranking
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 04/11/18 10:57pm
Justin Rose achieved his double aim of defending his Turkish Airlines Open title and returning to the top of the world rankings after a terrible mistake from Haotong Li at the first play-off hole.
Rose started the day three shots adrift of the overnight leader, but he soon reeled in the faltering Haotong and made good on his promise to cut out the mistakes that had blighted his third-round 69, until he carded his first bogey of the day at the 17th.
The Englishman then missed from five feet at the 18th for the title after Haotong had three-putted from 50 feet, but the young Chinese player then lost his composure on the green on the first extra hole.
With Rose safely in for par, the 25-year-old had an eight-foot putt to win his second European Tour title of the season, but he raced the birdie attempt three feet past and then rushed the return putt, pushing it wide of the target to gift the victory to the new world No 1.
Late charges from the likes of Martin Kaymer, Lucas Bjerregaard and Danny Willett ultimately came up short as the top two went head-to-head down the stretch, with Alex Levy out of the running after four bogeys over a wretched first 10 holes.
Haotong struggled for rhythm from the outset and bogeyed the second before scrambling hard to avoid further blemishes, while Rose was content to grind out the pars while making good birdies at the seventh and the 10th which lifted him into a share of the lead.
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Another mistake from Haotong gifted Rose the outright lead at the 11th, although the 25-year-old did well to make his first birdie of the day at the long 12th to match the four of the Englishman, who then opened up a two-shot advantage when he holed from 10 feet for birdie at the 14th.
But Haotong responded with the shot of the day, a remarkable long-iron over the water hazard which pitched safely on the 15th green and rolled to within two feet of the pin to set up a tap-in for eagle, and he soon found himself back in a share of the lead when Rose raced his long eagle putt seven feet past the cup and missed the return.
Rose regained sole possession of the lead when he nailed a six-footer on the 16th green shortly after Haotong had shaved the edge with his birdie attempt, but Rose then three-putted from 45 feet at the penultimate hole and the pair were level once again.
Haotong had the advantage on the 72nd thanks to a big drive which left him only a wedge for his second but, after Rose had pulled his second into the front-left bunker, Haotong's approach came up short and left him a tricky two-putt from over 50 feet.
He lagged to five feet after Rose splashed out to the same distance, but both were unable to convert their par putts as the tournament had to be decided in overtime, and Haotong will not want to revisit his rush of blood back on the 18th green.
Thomas Detry reeled off five consecutive birdies on the back nine as he earned a share of third with Adrian Otaegui, with both shooting 65, while Kaymer's 66 earned the former world No 1 only his third top-10 finish of the year, and his first since June.
Kaymer closed on 14 under alongside Bjerregaard, while Tommy Fleetwood was a shot further back as he made a small dent in Francesco Molinari's commanding lead in the Race to Dubai standings.