Rose holds firm to beat Bjerregaard to Hong Kong title

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Rose with his Hong Kong trophy.

World number seven Justin Rose needed all his experience Sunday to win a tight battle against Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard and triumph in the Hong Kong Open by just one shot.

Former US Open winner Rose started the final day tied for the lead with 285th-ranked Bjerregaard, but a double bogey by the young Dane late in the round derailed his challenge.

Englishman Rose, 35, is the first from his country to win the tournament since Ian Poulter in 2010. He finished with a 17 under par 263, which could see him bumped up to fifth in the world rankings.

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RECAP: Rose and Bjerregaard to do battle

The unheralded Bjerregaard, aged 24, finished just one shot behind him with a 16 under par 264.

"I'm absolutely delighted to come out on top today," Rose told reporters after the tournament, which was also his first European Tour victory on Asian soil. "Starting the day, there was obviously Lucas and I ahead of the pack and that's very much how it finished, so it really turned out to be a head-to-head battle between myself and Lucas."

Rose remained patient in the final, even when he dropped a shot on the par-four 9th and Bjerregaard jumped into the lead by two with a birdie.

The Englishman made a comeback on the back nine after the par-four 14th when Bjerregaard hit the ball into the trees and then three-putted for the double bogey.

By the 18th Rose was two strokes ahead, and even had the luxury of three-putting the last par-four hole, laughing as the crowds cheered him on.

"It was tight the whole day… I just kept my nose in front right at the end," he said. "I had a lot of good putts from 14… that was the turning point."

Bjerregaard, who had led for much of the first half, said he was happy with the way he played and Rose was a tough competitor.

"It was fun to battle with Justin these last two days, it's guys like him I want to compete against. At least I gave him a bit of a scare," he said.

Aside from the 14th, he added that he had kept his cool for much of the day.

"I was more nervous last night just thinking about going out and playing against him."

Tied for third place were Soomin Lee, Patrick Reed, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Jason Scrivener — all finishing with an 11 under par 269.

Korea's Yang Yong-Eun, the only Asian-born man to win a major, came joint seventh alongside Lin Wen-tang, Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Anirban Lahiri and Matt Ford.

Rose's European Ryder Cup teammates Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter, both of whom had been hoping for strong performances, ended with five and six under par respectively, putting McDowell in tied 24th place and Poulter in joint 29th overall.

It was particularly disappointing for Poulter, who had to win in Hong Kong if he wanted to qualify for the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. He had made a mad dash to Hong Kong to retain his European Tour membership.

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Rose in action in Hong Kong.

Pre-tournament favourite Justin Rose set the early clubhouse target in the UBS Hong Kong Open on Friday, but admits he is wary of the challenge posed by Ryder Cup team-mate Ian Poulter.

Rose and Poulter both shot 66 in the second round at Fanling to finish nine and seven under par respectively, with Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard on eight under after his second consecutive 66.

Poulter dropped out of the world's top 50 on Sunday and was therefore ineligible for his planned appearance in the upcoming WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, meaning he would be unable to play the 13 events required for European Tour membership.

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Only members can qualify for Europe's Ryder Cup team and that meant the 39-year-old was forced into a frantic journey from Orlando to Hong Kong – via New York – but only after former US PGA champion Rich Beem generously agreed to give the Englishman his tournament invite.

"Poulter is a past champion is and he's on the leaderboard," Rose said. "He's always good when he's got something to prove and he's probably a dangerous guy now that he's outside the top 50 in the world, and I know that he'll be desperate to get back in it.

"He always plays well when he has motivation, so he's obviously going to be tough to beat."

As for his own form, world number seven Rose carded five birdies and his first bogey of the week before seeking treatment for a minor hip problem.

"I felt like I struggled with the recovery overnight," added the former US Open champion, who played in the Frys.com Open in California last week.

"I just felt like my body was sore this morning and today was definitely more of a struggle than yesterday. I don't know what it is. My left hip is really sore. A bit of physio and relaxing this afternoon, and I'll try and figure that out. Maybe I wasn't quite clearing through the ball as well as yesterday but I'll be fine."

Poulter, who only arrived in Hong Kong at 7pm on Wednesday, carded six birdies and two bogeys as he looks to win the Hong Kong Open for the second time.

"I got a decent amount of sleep last night, which is always handy," Poulter said.

"I fell asleep at 7.45 and I wasn't looking forward to what time I was going to wake up, but I managed to get through to 4am.

"There's a lot of good golf in there. I'm very happy and obviously it's nice to be in this position. I don't play to take part, I obviously play to win. Even coming in as late as I did, focusing on shooting a good score was really key. And I know this golf course. I've shot 60 around here before."

Rose was briefly joined at the top of the leaderboard when Taiwan's Lu Wei -chih carded a hat-trick of birdies from the 17th, having started from the 11th on the composite course.

However, the 36-year-old then ran up a double-bogey seven on the third and eventually had to settle for a 69 to finish alongside Poulter on seven under.

The biggest threat to Rose's lead now looked to be from Italy's Andrea Pavan, who shared the overnight lead with Lu and was seven under with five holes remaining.

British Masters winner Matt Fitzpatrick was three off the lead after firing four birdies in the last seven holes for a second consecutive 67.

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Justin Rose one shot off the lead on day one of Hong Kong Open

Phil Casey 22/10/2015
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Rose will be pleased with his first round.

Justin Rose lived up to his billing as pre-tournament favourite as Ryder Cup team-mate Ian Poulter ensured his last-minute dash to the Hong Kong Open was not a wasted journey. 

World number seven Rose, who is the top ranked player in the field, carded a flawless five-under-par 65 on Thursday to lie one shot off the lead shared by Italy's Andrea Pavan and Taiwan's Lu Wei-chih.

But Poulter was just two shots further back on three under as he looked to make the most of his dramatic late entry into the event, the 39-year-old only arriving in Hong Kong at 7pm on Wednesday.

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Poulter dropped out of the world's top 50 on Sunday and was therefore ineligible for his planned appearance in the upcoming WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, meaning he would be unable to play the 13 events required for European Tour membership.

Only members can qualify for Europe's Ryder Cup team and that meant Poulter was forced into a frantic journey from Orlando to Hong Kong – via New York – but only after former US PGA champion Rich Beem generously agreed to give the Englishman his tournament invite.

Poulter followed birdies on the second and fifth with bogeys on the eighth and ninth to reach the turn in level par, but came home in 33 thanks to birdies on the 10th, 15th and 17th.

Pavan came into the week 191st in the Race to Dubai and needing to finish second or better to climb into the top 110 and keep hold of his playing privileges.

That would represent a career-best for the 26-year-old, who has never recorded a top-three finish, but four birdies in his last six holes gave him an opening 64 and a share of the lead.

"This year has been a struggle to say the least," Pavan said.

"I'm just trying to dig deep and really look forward to every week. Obviously this is the last event of the year for me and then I'm looking to go to Q-School. So it's all about just giving myself chances."

Lu, who came close to retirement three years ago after undergoing brain surgery, won three times on the Asian Tour before a non-malignant tumour was discovered in 2012.

"For the first six months after the surgery, I pretty much gave up all my confidence and trust because I had no power and I didn't think I could play golf anymore," the 36-year-old said after a round containing eight birdies and two bogeys.

"I had to rest for another six months and then finally I started playing a little bit. If I played 18 holes, I could barely walk after 14 or 15 holes. But finally I started coming back mentally and physically. I just keep telling myself that I want to be a real golfer again and compete on the Tour."

Lu's countryman CT Pan and India's Jeev Milka Singh were alongside Rose on five under, with Graeme McDowell, Oliver Fisher and Kevin Phelan among the group on four under.

Fisher is 105th on the Race to Dubai and looks to be safe for next season, while Phelan is 123rd and in need of a good finish this week to secure his card.

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