Thursday 24 October 2019

Rose makes Major plans as Lowry targets top 50

Shane Lowry, lining up a putt during the Turkish Airlines Open, aims for a top 50 ranking next year. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Shane Lowry, lining up a putt during the Turkish Airlines Open, aims for a top 50 ranking next year. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

World No 1 Justin Rose believes he can follow in the footsteps of Pádraig Harrington and Phil Mickelson and become a multiple Major winner late in his career.

The 2013 US Open champion finished his 2018 European Tour campaign with a playoff win over Haotong Li in the Turkish Airlines Open on Sunday but he's not resting on his laurels with Major wins his primary goal now.

"You've seen players like Phil and Pádraig Harrington have had hot spells towards the end of their careers where they have amassed two or three really quickly," Rose said.

"I don't know if I'm a bit, you know, whatever in the head, but I'm really looking forward to the off-season to still work at a few things and still get better. I think that's the exciting part, at 38, I still feel like there is improvement to be achieved."

What the future holds for four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy (29) remains to be seen as he returns to action in this week's $7.5 million Nedbank Golf Challenge following his lacklustre share of 54th in the WGC HSBC Champions nine days ago.

He's now ranked sixth in the world behind Rose, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and the "golfing scientist" Bryson DeChambeau, whose Shriners Hospitals for Children Open win in Las Vegas on Sunday was his third in five starts and his fourth since the Memorial Tournament in June.

As McIlroy is almost €2 million behind Open champion Francesco Molinari in the Race to Dubai, he knows he must win in Sun City and again at next week's DP World Tour Championship to have even a mathematical chance of becoming European No 1 for the fourth time.

He also joins Shane Lowry, Paul Dunne and 2020 Ryder Cup captain in-waiting Pádraig Harrington at the Gary Player Country Club knowing that hitting fairways will be key.

Harrington plays on an invitation having failed to qualify on merit. But after a chat with European Tour CEO Keith Pelley in Turkey, he's aware that the captaincy will not be discussed and a decision made until after the season-ending event in Dubai.

As for Lowry, who is up to 41st in the Race to Dubai and 70th in the world, he knows he has to drive it better in Sun City than he did in finishing 14th in Turkey if he's to edge closer to his goal of making the top 50 in the world by next March.

"I am certainly going to have to sort out my driving over the next three days if I am going to do well around there," said the Offaly man, who is 41st in the Race to Dubai heading to a venue where he tied for 12th last year.

Lowry lost his full PGA Tour card this year but hopes to play several US events early next term.

"My PGA Tour category is not that bad," said Lowry who will bring 2018 to a close by teaming up with Dunne in the ISPS Handa Melbourne World Cup of Golf before beginning 2019 in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

"I think I can get into Tampa, Hilton Head, the Zurich Classic - providing Paddy picks me - and then I'd get into the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

"Obviously, if I get into the top 50 in the world, all of a sudden I have a good schedule and I need to be over there (in the US). I will just focus on the next three weeks and see what happens."

Irish Independent

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