Sam Torrance: Justin Rose is a genius, a grandmaster of golf and in the prime of his career

Sam Torrance
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Turkish Airlines Open - Day Four
Rose edged in front of Brooks Koepka at the top of the rankings with victory in Turkey (Source: Getty)

Justin Rose made a welcome return to the top of the world rankings by defending his Turkish Airlines Open title on Sunday but only after an incredible and fascinating finish to the tournament.

Having played magnificent golf all week, Rose gave overnight leader Li Haotong fresh hope by bogeying the 17th and 18th holes – only for his Chinese rival to also miss a five-foot par putt to win it at the last.

Li then three-putted from 10 feet when they replayed the 18th in the play-off, meaning Rose took the victory but – due to the manner of it and Justin being such a gentleman – it was with unusually muted celebrations.

It had been a great final round, with Li’s wonderful eagle to draw level with Rose at 15 a highlight. But the Englishman simply doesn’t go away.

He plotted his way around patiently, parring the first six holes before making five birdies in the next 10. Despite those late bogeys, he kept the pressure on Li right until the end with a brilliant bunker shot at the 72nd hole.

Rose is back at world No1 having hit top spot for the first time in his career two months ago but then been quickly overtaken by Brooks Koepka.

The pair are almost neck and neck in the rankings yet are very different golfers. While the strategic Rose is a chess grandmaster of a player, US Open and US PGA champion Koepka is more aggressive.

The American, 28, is 10 years younger than Rose so at a different stage of his career. That could make him hungrier, although Rose spoke after his latest win of his desire to keep improving, saying he couldn’t wait to work on his game during the off-season. From someone who is already the finished article, that is great to hear.

Rose is a beautiful to player to watch, but if there is something he is keen to work on then it may be his downswing. He doesn’t look happy with the position he is trying to get into and, while you couldn’t possibly criticise him, ideally you’d want a player to just walk up and hit it. Instead, if anything Rose only seems to be becoming more methodical.

He is a genius, though, and at 38 is very much in his prime. He has accomplished everything but will want more Majors to add to his 2013 US Open triumph. There is every reason to think he will do that over the next few years.

Fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood’s final round of 69 gave him a share of seventh place in Turkey and closed the gap slightly on Race To Dubai leader Francesco Molinari.

Defending champion Fleetwood is still more than 1m points behind Molinari, though, and with both men not due to play again until the finale, the DP World Tour Championship, his chances look slim. Nonetheless, he is having a great year and has made a fantastic defence. A first Major is the next step for Fleetwood now.

It was nice to see Martin Kaymer and Danny Willett finish well enough in Turkey to book their places at the lucrative European Tour curtain call in Dubai later this month.

Both are very accomplished players who have been in the doldrums but certainly look to be on the mend. Also encouraging was young Englishman Sam Horsfield following up his fifth place at the British Masters with another top 10 place.

Over in the United States, meanwhile, the unique Bryson DeChambeau underlined what an incredible year he is having with his third win on the PGA Tour in his last five outings – and his fourth since June.

DeChambeau, who plays with irons that are all the length of a seven-iron, is unlike any other player. I can’t explain how it can all work but he knows his own game so well and somehow it does.

The 25-year-old, who has shot up from outside the top 100 to fifth in the world in 2018, has been as hot as anyone on the planet over the last few months and shows no signs of cooling.

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