Rose lands in deep water to put rank­ings charge at risk

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By James Cor­ri­gan GOLF COR­RE­SPON­DENT in Belek, Turkey

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

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