Victorious Rose closes in on McIlroy
Among the first to congratulate Justin Rose on his 19th professional victory at the Hong Kong Open was Rory McIlroy, a sign of respect as well as popularity.
The pair had played the opening two rounds the previous week at the Frys.com Open in California, where Rose muscled in on McIlroy's tee territory, frequently smashing his ball further with the driver.
"Well done," McIlroy said, "you didn't need that long ball at Fanling! Enjoy."
Rose's one-shot victory over Denmark's Lukas Bjerregaard took him back into the world's top five, and fourth in the Race to Dubai, setting up the possibility of a stirring end-of-season duel with McIlroy, who returns this week in Turkey, for the European order of merit crown.
McIlroy would expect to extend his lead at the top of the Race to Dubai at the Turkish Airlines Open, but Rose, having found his touch with the putter, is the man in form and keen to avenge his narrow defeat in Dubai three years ago, when the world No 3 famously rattled off five successive birdies to claim the DP World Tour Championship at the last hole and the order of merit with it.
"I'm very happy to get the job done. I had a chance to win in Napa last week, I was tied for the lead going down the 10th hole and let that one fritter away a little bit. I wanted to hang on to this one," said Rose, who finished on a 17-under-par total. Graeme McDowell carded a 68 to finish on six-under in the event.