Justin Rose has his eyes set firmly on becoming the European Tour’s Number One player for a second time when he tees it up at the Turkish Airline Open – the sixth Rolex Series event of the 2017 European Tour season – following his stunning victory in China last Sunday.
The World Number Six produced the biggest comeback of the season to win his tenth European Tour title on a dramatic final day of the WGC-HSBC Champions when he overcame an eight-shot deficit to defeat World Number One Dustin Johnson.
That victory moved him 1,056,597 points behind fellow countryman Tommy Fleetwood in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, and with US$22.5million up for grabs over the last three events of the season – starting this week at Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort – it is still all to play for.
Rose, who tees it up alongside Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson in the first round, finished as European Number One ten years ago and while he has since won a Major Championship, two World Golf Championships and an Olympic Gold Medal, the 37 year old would love to get his hands on the Harry Vardon Trophy again.
The reigning Race to Dubai champion, Stenson, is hoping a strong showing in Antalya will help make up ground in the rankings, as he looks to consolidate his tied second place finish last week in China. The Swede is 2,326,448 points behind Fleetwood and will be playing every week until the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai as he looks to bridge the gap.
Meanwhile, Tyrrell Hatton is looking to continue his recent run of form that has included back-to-back victories at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and the last Rolex Series event, the Italian Open.
The Englishman will play all three remaining Rolex Series events as he hopes to continue his rise in the Race to Dubai Rankings from fifth position, with the US$5million Race to Dubai Bonus Pool divided amongst the leading ten players at the conclusion of the 2017 DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
Justin Rose: “It matters because you’ve beaten the best players in Europe and for the most part the best players in the world.
“If you can win a tournament, you’ve beaten the guys over a week and that’s fantastic but a lot of guys can have hot weeks. If you win over the course of a season that speaks volumes. I think to measure your game over the course of a year tells you that you’ve really been solid and you’ve really achieved something special.
“All the players here are excited. We’re all challenging, and like Henrik said, we’ve all got Tommy in our sights. With the prize money being as strong as it is, it offers the opportunity for a lot of the guys to play catch up.
“The simple maths was I had to win at least two of them so part one is done, anyway. But it’s really now about focusing on the next two events that I have to make a difference. So starting this week.
“I was very aware that I needed to play some special golf in my last three events. I’m not playing South Africa next week so, for me, it was always going to be China, then here in Turkey and then obviously take a week off just to go home and see the children and play Dubai.
Henrik Stenson: “If I were to be one of the ones on the top of the leaderboard this week, there’s still more chances to challenge for the overall Race to Dubai. I certainly need to get something going and I know Justin has Tommy in his sights as well with a win last week. We’ve still got the opportunity to challenge for that.
“It’s been a pretty good year. It has not been as good as 2016 for me but still a year when I managed to win on the PGA Tour and it would be nice to win on the European Tour as well and I would love to make it happen this week.
“I’ve had pretty good success here. I think I was seventh and third in my two previous appearances. Even though I’ve got someone next to me (Rose) and a few other guys that make sure I don’t improve on that number, I will try my hardest this week.
“I’m glad it’s part of the Rolex Series and one of our final events in the Race to Dubai and one of the big events of the year.”
Tyrrell Hatton: “It’s obviously been a really good run for me recently. Hopefully I can carry that form into the last three weeks and have a good end to the year.
“I had three days off for my week off and when I started again, it was like I had not swung a golf club for years. It felt really weird. I lost all the good feelings I did have, so I feel like I struggled quite a bit tee-to-green in China, but my putter was really hot for three days, so it kind of kept me in it.
“We are playing for a lot of points the next three weeks. So you know, if I can get another two wins, I think I might be close but obviously that’s a big ask. I’ll certainly try my best to do that.