Monday 11 December 2017

Westwood and Rose show up big two in race for £1m

Rory McIlroy shares a joke with Tiger Woods on the way to a six-shot defeat to the American at Antalya GC in Turkey.
Rory McIlroy shares a joke with Tiger Woods on the way to a six-shot defeat to the American at Antalya GC in Turkey.

James Corrigan in Antalya

As Rory McIlroy headed for some sun and sand, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood headed for a £1m showdown by humbling Tiger Woods and Antalya GC respectively.

The climax of the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final today will be an all-English affair. It could be an all-birdie affair as well, if Rose can reproduce his 62 from yesterday morning and fellow Englishman Westwood can recreate his 61 from the afternoon. Rose conceded that the latter was by far the greater achievement.

"He shot what?" said Rose when told about Westwood's 10-under heroics against Charl Schwartzel. "No way. I thought it was difficult this afternoon. My 62 this morning was compiled in conditions which I reckon made it three shots easier. So Lee's 61 was nibbling at a 59. That's a great round of golf."

Westwood's scorecard revealed he did not nibble so much as gnaw. But for a double-bogey on the fourth he would have cracked the magical 60 barrier for the first time in his career.


Still, Westwood was not moaning, having shot a 64 in the morning.

"I've never been 17-under for a day before," said Westwood. "That 61 was one of my best five rounds ever. What pleased me most was my short game around the greens." Westwood holed out from a bunker on the sixth and chipped in on the 13th.

"I'm just pleased to be playing well and getting back in the swing of things after the Ryder Cup, with no hangover from that," he said. His recent short-game work with Tony Johnstone is paying off, possibly to the tune of £1m if he avenges Wednesday's group-stage loss to his Ryder Cup team-mate, though he is already guaranteed £670,000.

These are huge sums which, together with the fact that four of the world's top five have been in attendance, have lent this inaugural event its substance.

McIlroy did not seem to think so, however. His first head-to-head with Woods had been eagerly awaited, but in the event proved an anti-climax, with the world No 2 beating the No 1 by six shots.

"I've got an afternoon by the beach, I don't mind," McIlroy said after being eliminated. "I've treated this week as: it's great to come here, nice weather, play a bit of golf, I get to spend some time with Caroline (Wozniacki). I viewed it as a week like that. I didn't touch a club until the first day."

It is hard to imagine Woods ever saying that. Woods went into his semi-final determined to stay on track for the fourth win of his year, but was beaten by Rose.

Having accounted for Phil Mickelson in the singles at the Ryder Cup 11 days before, Rose completed the American superstar double and did so when far from his best.

"It was an ugly match, really, until the end," said Rose after his 69 defeated Woods' 70. "When you play with Tiger the atmosphere changes out on the course -- there is more kerfuffle, and I just felt way out of my rhythm early in the round. But I hung in there and got a stroke of luck on 14 when I canned a 52-degree wedge from 110 yards."

That was the critical moment. "It switched right there," said Woods. "From being one shot ahead I was suddenly one shot behind with four left. It's frustrating but I didn't play well enough to win."

Woods could not fly back to the United States immediately as there is a Pro-Am after this morning's final, in which six people have paid a collective £400,000 to play nine holes with the 14-time Major winner.

That's five times more than was paid to play with McIlroy. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Turkish Airlines Golf World Final

Live, Sky Sports 2, 6.30am

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