JUSTIN ROSE reckons moving back to world No 1 is “even sweeter this time”, as he reclaimed top spot with the first successful title defence of his career.
Rose retained his Turkish Airlines Open crown in nail-biting fashion, as he and main rival Li Haotong of China both seemed to freeze with the finishing line in sight.
The English ace came out on top after Li three-putted the final green twice – first with the title seemingly in his grasp at the 72nd hole and then in the first hole of a sudden death play-off.
Rose, 38, was also guilty of shocking misses on both the 17th and 18th before it went to overtime. But his twitchy finish underlined just how much this victory meant to him.
He said: “I guess it’s taken me twenty years to finally hold onto a title, so that feels really great. It surprises me it has taken this long, because normally your wins come at a place you like, and love going back to.
“And my results – which I think now add up to 24 top tens in my last 31 European Tour events – show I’m definitely playing the best golf of my career. That made defending even more of a target.
HE'S DONE IT 🏆
Back-to-back in Turkey
Back to World Number one#TurkishAirlinesOpen #RolexSeries pic.twitter.com/QyciTih7yc
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 4, 2018
“I’m beginning to win more regularly, and coming back to back here is fun because it’s such a great week on and off the golf course. At this time of year you can turn up to a tournament feeling a bit jaded, but I find this week very rejuvenating.
“And making it back to No 1 does taste even sweeter this time, having made it with a win. There was bit of a muted celebration when I first got there a couple of months ago, because it came on the back of a defeat in a play-off.
“I had another bittersweet Sunday when I won the FedEx Cup series despite finishing fourth in the final event, the Tour Championship.
“This time I think I’ll enjoy the celebrations a bit more because I’ve got silverware as well as the big accolade.”
Rose’s first stint at the top lasted only two weeks, but he has set his sights on keeping it a bit longer this time.
He added: “I’m, not going to get stressed about holding on to it because it’s so tight between the top four right now.
“But it would be nice to sit down to a turkey dinner as world No 1 – after all, I’ve already shown how much I love Turkey!”
Rose shot a three under par 68 to turn the tables on Haotong, wiping out his three shot overnight lead as they both finished on 18 under.
His victory lifted the world No 1 to third spot on the Race to Dubai standings, behind Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood.
But he will still sidestep the final event, the DP World Championship in Dubai, as even another victory would not be enough for him to overtake Molinari.
Fleetwood can catch Molinari, but a share of seventh place here means he still has a mountain to climb – he remains more than a million points adrift of the Open champion.