Rose lands in deep water to put rankings charge at risk
Tourists like to visit this stunning Mediterranean coastline at this time of the year to relax in the water, but three visits to the wet stuff caused Justin Rose nothing but angst and provided a sizeable obstacle in his mission to return to world No1 today.
Those penalty shots on the seventh, 10th and 18th are essentially the difference between Rose and Haotong Li on the Turkish Airlines Open leaderboard.
The young Chinese player’s eightunder 63 was the best score of the day by three strokes and, on 17 under, he is well worthy of his three-shot advantage over Rose and France’s Alex Levy.
But Rose had been in such fine form for the first two days that when he went out with a two-shot lead at the Regnum Carya Course – where he won last year – nobody expected such slip-ups, even if his 69 was far from disastrous.
Rose, 38, must win if he is to displace Brooks Koepka at the head of the rankings and he will not wish to be looking at his sloppiness in the third round as the reason for any shortfall. “It was just a couple of mental mistakes really,” Rose said. “I’m delighted with my position, but I did have a poor finish and I had an opportunity to get closer to him [Li]. Obviously, he’s had his great round today and the great thing is I get to play in the last group.
“I was two back last year and came through and to this point it’s all water under the bridge, isn’t it? There’s so much golf to be played.”
Rose shares the same manager as Li, so he knows all about the world No 50’s burgeoning talent. The evidence of the Desert Classic in February will also make Rose appreciate that the threetime Tour winner will not be intimidated in the presence of big names.
In Dubai, Li, 23, went head to head with Rory McIlroy and overturned a two-shot deficit with eight holes remaining to stun the Northern Irishman. When asked about his prospects against Rose and collecting the £900,000 first prize, Li said: “Well, I just want to play my best and beat him.”
Thorbjorn Olesen, the 2016 champion, is fourth on 13 under, while two Englishmen, Danny Willett and Sam Horsfield, are one further behind.
Taking the plunge: Justin Rose ended up in the water three times to leave him trailing Haotong Li