Justin Rose will fully celebrate his second spell as world number one after capping an extraordinary run of golf with the first successful title defence of his career in the Turkish Airlines Open.
Rose defeated China’s Haotong Li on the first play-off hole after the pair had finished tied on 17 under par following a nervy finish at the Regnum Carya Resort.
The 38-year-old is now a combined 55 under par for his 12 rounds in the £5.4million event after finishing third on his debut in 2013, while he also won its precursor - an eight-man matchplay competition - in Antalya in 2012. Rose spent two weeks as world number one earlier this season after losing out to Keegan Bradley in a play-off for the BMW Championship, but had been determined to get back to the summit in style with a second consecutive victory in Turkey.
“It’s taken me 20 years to defend a title so that’s great,” admitted Rose, who has won five times and recorded 24 top-10 finishes in his last 31 events. “Maybe I haven’t won enough tournaments to give myself enough opportunities to defend, but to do it back-to-back is very special.
“I was very keenly aware of losing the play-off to Keegan and my play-off record of late hasn’t been great. I really wanted to buck that trend. Being world number one doesn’t make you one under par on the first tee the next time you play, but it’s something to be proud of for sure.
“I’m sure we’ll re-toast getting to number one and this time we have some silverware. Last time it was muted because I was still so mad at not winning the tournament, but this time I have that double winning feeling so it might be a bit more fun this time.”
“There were moments out there where it looked like both of us weren’t holding our nerve very well,” Rose admitted. “The 18th green is a treacherous one and it took a couple of scalps there at the end. And obviously I do have to spare a thought for Haotong. That’s a tough way to finish. He’s hit a positive putt to try and win and that green is very tough.”