Justin Rose has a return to World Number One in his sights as the Englishman defends his title at this week’s Turkish Airlines Open, the sixth Rolex Series event of the 2018 Race to Dubai.
The World Number Two claimed his second successive win at the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort last year when he followed up his WGC-HSBC Champions victory with a one-stroke triumph over Nicolas Colsaerts and Dylan Frittelli in Belek.
Only a win would do this week if Rose is to return to the summit of the Official World Golf Ranking, but with four top tens in his last five European Tour appearances – including a share of third in China last week – the Olympic Golf Gold Medalist is in confident mood.
Tommy Fleetwood, meanwhile, is also targeting a number one spot of his own over the next three weeks – in the Race the Dubai – as he chases down the sizeable lead of his close friend, Open Champion Francesco Molinari. Fleetwood is also on superb form, with three top tens in his last three events, and has played every Turkish Airlines Open since its inauguration in 2013.
The Turkish Airlines Open kicks off the final stretch of Rolex Series events, the European Tour’s eight premium tournaments each with a minimum prize fund of $7million, as the 2018 Race to Dubai nears a conclusion, with only the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player and the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, remaining before the European Tour Number One is crowned.
Justin Rose: “It’s a pretty similar situation to last year in some ways. There have been a lot of top tens coming into this week, which makes you feel like you’re playing well. You’re in contention and on the leaderboard and you’re looking for that little kick to get over the finish line.
“Coming over here last year, I won in China the week before but I was able to roll it into this week and made the putt on the final green to get ahead of the field. Confidence-wise, I’d say it feels fairly similar. Now it’s up to me to put four good rounds together.
“World Number One is an added thing to think about, obviously. That’s not going to help me to win the tournament. I’ve got to keep it and run my routines and try and keep it simple. That’s how you play your best golf. I always play my best golf by stripping away thoughts rather than by adding them, so I have to be careful how I frame them this week.”
Tommy Fleetwood: “I think things are going very well. I’m playing some very consistent golf and I’m doing a lot of good things. Said a couple of times now, unfortunately, I’ve done too many bad things at the right times.
“Just sort of waiting and working and hoping that I can put them all together over four days and get the result that a lot of my good stuff sort of warrants. But every day, we’re working hard and we’re moving in the right direction and there’s been a lot of consistent stuff which is all good.
“I do like it here. The last couple of years, I just haven’t got off to a very fast start. There’s a lot of birdies made around this golf course, and I think the first two days, I’ve just not made enough and not putted well and then you leave yourself a long way back.
“I just need to make a faster start if I’m going to contend at all. I do like the course. I like the way a lot of the shots set up. For the most part, the weekends I’ve had have showed that I can play well around here. I just need to try and do that more often.”