BELEK, Turkey (Reuters) – Justin Rose set up a thrilling finale to the European Tour campaign by winning the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open on Sunday to claim his second victory in eight days.
The world number six, who overcame an eight-shot deficit in the final round to triumph at last week’s WGC-HSBC Champions event in China, rammed in a 12-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole to pip Nicolas Colsaerts and Dylan Frittelli to the title.
Englishman Rose’s closing six-under-par 65 at the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort on the south-west coast of Turkey gave him an 18-under total of 266, one stroke better than Belgian Colsaerts (66) and South African Frittelli (64).
Rose, who began the week trailing fellow countryman Tommy Fleetwood by more than one million points, has now closed the gap on the money-list leader to about 135,000 points with two tournaments remaining this season.
“This is incredibly sweet,” said the 2013 U.S. Open champion. “It’s like a bus, you wait ages for one and then two turn up at once.”
It was a day of high drama on the par-71 layout situated between the Mediterranean and the imposing Taurus Mountains.
Frittelli gave spectacular early notice of his intent by birdying five straight holes on the front nine, including three remarkable chip-ins at the fifth, sixth and eighth.
Triple major champion Padraig Harrington (67) then went from agony to ecstasy when he chipped in from 40 yards after finding water with his approach shot at the 10th. The Irishman ended up in fourth spot on 268.
Rose broke a logjam at the top of the leaderboard by holing a 12-foot birdie putt at the 16th but playing partner Colsaerts hit back with a birdie at the next.
Frittelli, featuring in the match ahead, joined the pair on 17-under by converting a 14-foot birdie putt at the last.
Rose then went back in front by sinking his putt at the 18th before Colsaerts missed from 10 feet.
“Birdying two of the last three was unexpected because they are a pretty good challenge,” said Rose after becoming the third player to win the week after a WGC event, emulating Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
“Nicolas made birdies on 16 and 17, Dylan made a birdie at the last when he needed to, so it really took a special five-iron at the last to clinch this one.”
Rose said he was reminded of the final-hole disappointment he suffered at the U.S. Masters in April when he finished second behind Spain’s Sergio Garcia.
“My mind went back to Augusta on the 18th green,” he explained. “That was a similar length putt and didn’t go in but today this one did.”
Despite his victory, Rose seems unlikely to change his mind about missing next week’s Nedbank Challenge in South Africa before returning for the final European event of the season in Dubai.
“I’ve given myself a lot to think about in terms of next week,” he said. “I still don’t think I’m going to go, think I’ll just trust myself in Dubai.
“I’m close enough to Tommy that if I was to win in Dubai and he comes second I’d be able to clinch the title.”
(Editing by Ed Osmond)