Justin Rose secured the first title defense of his career to jump up to third in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai Rankings and back to the summit of the Official World Golf Ranking after holding his nerve to defeat Haotong Li in a dramatic play-off at the Turkish Airlines Open.
The Englishman, who also became the first player to successfully defend a Rolex Series title, started the final round three shots behind Li but led by two with four to play as he produced another solid display of the kind of golf that had helped him record six top ten finishes in the 2018 Race to Dubai before arriving in Turkey.
An outstanding eagle on the 15th drew Li back level but Rose immediately replied with a birdie on the 16th to regain the lead at Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort. A couple of bogeys coming home left both men tied at 17 under par after 72 holes before Li’s three-putt on the first trip back up the 18th handed Rose his 12th European Tour victory.
“Congratulations to Justin on his victory in Turkey and becoming the World Number One again,” said Nick Tarratt, Director, European Tour International Dubai Office. “Justin has shown an outstanding level of consistency over the last couple of years and is fully deserving of his achievements. Fittingly, with the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final also finishing this weekend, Justin is yet another example of the success that the European Challenge Tour breeds.”
With the triumph, Rose collects 1,166,600 Race to Dubai points and jumps from tenth to third in the Race to Dubai Rankings while also becoming the first man since Luke Donald to reach World No.1 after winning a European Tour event.
“It’s really important to have defended a title, it’s taken me a long time to do it,” said the 2013 US Open winner. “Maybe I haven’t won enough tournaments to give myself enough opportunities to defend, but this golf course obviously suits my eye, and when you do find a golf course that does suit your eyes, you feel like you should give yourself opportunities to win there, but to do it back-to-back is very special.
“It’s really nice to be back at World Number One. That’s just something to be proud of. It certainly doesn’t make you one-under par on the first tee the next time you play but it’s something to be proud of for sure.”
Li, who was aiming to become the first player from China to win twice on the European Tour in the same season, picked up 780,000 Race to Dubai points for his runner-up finish. The 23-year-old moves from 19th to ninth in the Rankings on 2,482,691 points which makes him eligible for the Race to Dubai Bonus Pool, open to the top ten players on the Rankings following the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
Meanwhile, Martin Kaymer’s tied fifth place finish ensured he would keep up his record of appearing at every DP World Tour Championship since its inception in 2009. The former World Number One surges from 77th to 51st in the Rankings after receiving 271,600 points.
Englishman Danny Willett also sealed his spot at the season-ending tournament after a tied for seventh place finish saw him pick up 182,216 points which moves the 2016 Masters Tournament champion from 64th to 52nd in the Rankings.
The DP World Tour Championship takes place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from Thursday 15 to Sunday 18 November.