A clearly emotional Justin Rose admitted he “hit the wall” at a crucial stage to throw away not only victory at the DP World Tour Championship but the chance to win a second European Tour Order of Merit.
It has been 10 years since a 27-year-old Rose overtook Ernie Els and held off the challenge of defending champion Padraig Harrington to win the 2007 Order of Merit.
In this year’s Race to Dubai he was the one chasing, and for much of Sunday it looked as if the reigning Olympic champion would be the golden boy again as he hunted down long-time leader Tommy Fleetwood.
But three bogeys on a dramatic back nine saw him plummet down the standings as he eventually finished in a tie for fourth on -17 under as newly-crowned European Tour rookie of the year Jon Rahm triumphed at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Despite his meltdown, Rose would still have triumphed had he finished one shot better than his round of 70, seeing him post -2 under par for the day.
But after making the turn in 32, it all went wrong for the 2013 US Open champion, who self-destructed despite the fact Fleetwood endured his own horror show, posting a +2 over par 74 to finish tied 21st.
“I felt really good at the start, I’m not really sure where it came apart on the back nine. Sometimes momentum gets going the wrong way,” said a visibly distraught Rose who finished runner-up with 4,921,062 Race to Dubai points – 499,468 behind Fleetwood.
“I did hit the wall a bit today. The front nine was beautiful. I was playing great golf and I felt in complete control.
— Justin Rose (@JustinRose99) November 19, 2017
“The bogey at 12 seemed to slow all the momentum. From that point it was a bit of a grind. The other guys seemed to do what they needed to do down the stretch.
“It was tough to fight it out on the back nine, because I knew what was going on. I figured I had to get to 18 under. It wasn’t like I wasn’t comfortable. I felt good, it’s just those slight lapses that cost me today.
“I don’t want to critique it too much, I had a lot of good shots on the back nine, I just didn’t put it together, I didn’t score it. I can look back on a lot of things and be disappointed about.”
Rose looked like he would stroll to both the tournament and series win on the front nine as he took advantage of the par five second, holed a four-footer on the third, a 15-footer on the fifth and then a brilliant 25-foot putt down the hill on the seventh to turn with a one-shot lead.
A poor bunker shot on the 12th led to a bogey and left the door ajar, before more drama unfolded on the 14th.
Rose put his second in the water and while he recovered well to leave eight feet for par, he missed the putt and fell out of the lead both in the tournament and the Race to Dubai.
“I just feel I went a bit flat around the turn,” he added.
“I had opportunities around 10 and 11 and didn’t take those. I got a little bit out of my routine and a little distracted, had a poor shot on the 14th and then it was a struggle from there on in. The shots on 13 and 14 were the undoing.
“Going down 14 I thought I was still in it, I was going to win the tournament. I made a mistake there hitting the water and when you make a mistake like that it costs you so much at that stage of the tournament.”
Rose reserved praise for Fleetwood and Rahm.
He said: “Tommy, I’m pleased for him. He’s battled hard all year and put a good week in, in South Africa, and had a great couple of comeback rounds this week to fight back and deserve it. He’s been leading all year and it’s good for him to finish it off.
“I knew Jon was a dangerman today, he’s playing brilliant golf. I knew being one shot ahead you had to come out and shoot a good score. It wasn’t about coasting.”
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