ANTALYA, Turkey – Justin Rose revealed on Wednesday how five days’ relaxing and recharging his batteries beside the Vaal River in South Africa played its part in helping him to “steal” victory – and the massive R22 million first-place prize that went with the win – in the WGC-HSBC Champions event in China this past Sunday.
Speaking on the eve of the Turkish Airlines Open which starts on Thursday at the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort on the Mediterranean’s exquisite ‘Turquoise Coast’, the 37-year-old Johannesburg-born Englishman said: “Yeah, I did feel as though I stole that one, as it felt as though it wasn’t mine to win.
“It’s one of those things that happen once or twice in your career. You start the day eight off the pace as I did (he was eight behind leader Dustin Johnson), not expecting to win the thing.
“But I shot 67, finishing really strong, and Dustin helped my cause by fading to a 77, so I made up 10 shots on him to win it, but it did feel like I stole it.”
Golfers need to take a break from their busy, pressure-packed schedules.
And visiting members of his family – his brother and grandmother – and spending time with them at their place on the Vaal two weeks before China, helped last year’s Olympic gold medallist recharge his batteries in order to feel fighting fit again before getting back on tour and hitting form at Sheshan International GC in Shanghai.
Rose had a five-birdie 31 on the back nine on Sunday, while Johnson covered the stretch in an error-ridden 39 strokes to finish on 12-under 276 to tie for second with fellow American Brookes Koepka.
The win was worth €1.4 million, which equates to just over R22 million.
Now Rose feels he has a fighting chance of overhauling fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, who is currently in the No 1 spot, and winning the 2017 Race to Dubai.
There are three big-money events left on this year’s tour – this week’s Turkish Airlines Open, next week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City, and then the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
“And the simple maths is that I need to win two of them to catch Tommy,” he says.
And since he is not playing Sun City because he needs to be home with his wife and children Leo and Charlotte, he’ll have to win this week and in Dubai.
Rose is drawn with Fleetwood and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, the 2016 Race to Dubai winner, in Thursday’s first round.
There are six South Africans in this week’s line-up and Dylan Frittelli (39th in the rankings), George Coetzee (43rd), Dean Burmester (52nd), Brandon Stone (56th) and Richard Sterne (58th) are pretty much shoo-ins for the Nedbank, where the top 65 earn spots, but 64th-placed Haydn Porteous will have to play well this week to make sure he tees it up next week.
Then it’s on to Dubai, where only the top 60 make the grade.