Asian An­gle

Chuah Choo Chi­ang talks to the de­fend­ing WGC-HSBC Cham­pion about his tri­umph last year.

HK Golfer - - CONTENTS - By Chuah Choo Chi­ang

Justin Rose, the de­fend­ing WGC-HSBC Cham­pion, talks about his tri­umph last year and how to de­fend his roll of hon­our.

Head­line writ­ers all over the world have en­joyed a field day since Justin Rose sen­sa­tion­ally holed out from the rough on the 72nd hole as a 17-year-old am­a­teur to fin­ish a fairy-tale fourth at The Open Cham­pi­onship in 1998. From that grand-stand high to his 21 suc­ces­sive missed cuts im­me­di­ately af­ter turn­ing pro­fes­sional, Rose has in­deed blos­somed - for­give the pun into one of Eng­land’s golden sons that Asian fans are await­ing in earnest for his ti­tle de­fence at the World Golf Cham­pi­onships-HSBC Cham­pi­ons come Oc­to­ber.

In the age where a new gen­er­a­tion of 20-some­things such as Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Jor­dan Spi­eth are threat­en­ing to dom­i­nate the game, Rose, who is now a ripe 37 years of age, has proven time and again that he has the will and skill to thrill fans.

Cur­rently ranked No. 3 on planet golf, Rose is the reigning Olympic Games Gold Medal win­ner, a Ma­jor cham­pion, holder of 11 vic­to­ries on the Euro­pean Tour and nine on the PGA TOUR, which in­cludes two World Golf Cham­pi­onships.

Not only is Rose a fine gen­tle­man and fe­ro­cious golfer, but he is also gen­er­ous at heart too where along with his wife Kate, their foun­da­tion - the Kate and Justin Rose Foun­da­tion - fo­cuses on im­prov­ing chil­dren’s lives by pro­vid­ing nu­tri­tional sup­port, fund­ing ed­u­ca­tion and pro­vid­ing ‘first ex­po­sure’ pos­i­tive life ex­pe­ri­ences to kids.

With the PGA TOUR’s 2017-18 Sea­son en­ter­ing its cli­max with the FedExCup Play­offs con­clud­ing in Septem­ber, Rose must be feel­ing the good vibes again as it was ex­actly a year ago that the English­man’s stock rose dra­mat­i­cally.

In 23 starts around the world, he has won four times in China, Turkey, In­done­sia and Amer­ica, fin­ished top-10 in 14 other tour­na­ments and check this out, he has not missed a sin­gle cut at all dur­ing that red-hot spell which be­gan last Septem­ber un­til the time of writ­ing.

His tri­umph at last year’s WGC-HSBC Cham­pi­ons at She­shan In­ter­na­tional Golf Club was ma­jes­tic. Start­ing the fi­nal round eight back of World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and with a sim­ple goal of try­ing to fin­ish in sec­ond place, Rose pro­duced one of the rounds of his life to win the show­piece event by two shots fol­low­ing a clos­ing five-un­der-par 67 un­der blus­tery con­di­tions.

“… WGCs, when­ever you beat the top play­ers in the world, that gives a tour­na­ment vic­tory so much more mean­ing, and ob­vi­ously with a leader­board like we had to­day with Dustin, Brooks (Koepka) and (Hen­rik) Sten­son, I take a lot of pride in win­ning this tour­na­ment,” said Rose.

“And win­ning in China, to travel and to take your game in­ter­na­tion­ally I think is some­thing that's very im­por­tant to do. Ob­vi­ously, China is a very im­por­tant golf na­tion, and a grow­ing golf na­tion, so it's very im­por­tant to win in front of these fans.

“The con­fi­dence I gained from com­ing from eight shots back in such a big tour­na­ment against such a world-class field re­ally helped me fin­ish off last year on a high, and I have kept the mo­men­tum go­ing ever since. I will feel very proud to stand on the first tee at She­shan and be an­nounced as the de­fend­ing Cham­pion.”

Rose’s glo­ri­ous vic­tory cer­tainly added shine onto the tour­na­ment’s roll of hon­our as past WGC-HSBC Cham­pi­ons in­clude Ma­jor win­ners Phil Mick­el­son, Dustin Johnson, Ser­gio Gar­cia, Bubba Wat­son, Y.E. Yang, Martin Kaymer and Francesco Moli­nari.

An­other stel­lar field of cham­pi­ons is tipped to head full speed to the Far East once again and fea­ture in Asia’s rich­est golf tour­na­ment, which will of­fer a record US$10 mil­lion from Oc­to­ber 25 to 28.

Since its de­but in 2005, the Who’s Who of world golf have teed up at She­shan, and all have spo­ken highly of the WGC-HSBC Cham­pi­ons. Mick­el­son, who won the tour­na­ment in 2007 and 2009, said: “The fans in China are like nowhere else in the world in terms of their en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm.” The left-handed su­per­star has also re­ferred to the tour­na­ment as “Asia’s Ma­jor.”

Rose will be de­ter­mined to be­come the first player to suc­cess­fully de­fend in Shang­hai, es­pe­cially when he has stated his am­bi­tion of be­com­ing World No. 1 at some point in his il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer.

“I want to get to world No. 1 by win­ning golf tour­na­ments. There could be op­por­tu­ni­ties in the next six months. I could get there by fin­ish­ing sev­enth some­where be­cause there's al­ways per­mu­ta­tions. I want to get to world No. 1 by win­ning, and that keeps my goal sim­ple,” he said.

“I've got maybe three, four, five more years to re­ally make the most of my ca­reer, to re­ally put a nice lit­tle cherry on top of my ca­reer. And the stan­dard is im­prov­ing out here. It's very com­pet­i­tive, it's very hard to forge your way into the top-five in the world right now with how many wins these young play­ers are rack­ing up. Ob­vi­ously, we saw pe­ri­ods of time where Tiger would win five, six, seven, eight a year, but you're now get­ting to four or five guys hav­ing mul­ti­ple win sea­sons. That's the type of level you have to play at.”

Also, that, ladies and gen­tle­men, is ex­actly the type of golfer Justin Rose has be­come since emerg­ing onto the scene as a skinny and freck­led­face teenager.

Justin Rose plays his shot from the 13th tee dur­ing the first round of the2017 WGC-HSBC Cham­pi­ons

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