It wasn’t exactly how he drew it up, but the result is still the same.
Justin Rose watched from the side of the 18th green as Haotong Li first missed a 10-foot putt that would have won the Turkish Airlines Open, then missed a 3-foot par attempt that would have extended the playoff to a second extra hole.
Instead, Rose’s two-putt par turned out to be just enough to secure a successful title defense, the first back-to-back of his decorated career. It’s also a result that will move him past Brooks Koepka and back to world No. 1 when the newest rankings are published.
Rose had moved to world No. 2 last week with his third-place showing at the WGC-HSBC Champions. But he’ll now summit the rankings for the second time in his career, having enjoyed a two-week reign at No. 1 in September following a playoff loss to Keegan Bradley at the BMW Championship.
“Obviously it’s nice to get there, and it’s nice to get back there. Maybe it’s actually even sweeter to get back there,” Rose said. “I was pretty aware of my playoff record, hasn’t been that great. So this was one I definitely wanted to win.”
While Rose will enjoy the accolades that come with his second worldwide victory of the year, having also won at Colonial in May, it’ll likely be a bitter runner-up for Li to swallow. After starting the final round with a three-shot lead, he didn’t make a birdie until the 12th hole and then suffered a series of misses from close range on the greens.
Li couldn’t convert a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 10, then missed a 5-footer for par on the 72nd hole. He was given a reprieve for the latter only when Rose missed a par putt of similar length, but on the first extra hole with the stage to himself, he sent his short birdie putt for the win past the hole and then pushed his comeback attempt.
“My heart’s with Haotong. My head is obviously relieved that that’s over,” Rose said. “I feel for Haotong. He was clutch. I mean, those drivers he was hitting down the stretch. My plan was to keep hitting 5-wood in play, keep hitting 5-iron into this green, and I figured if he keeps hitting driver in that 15-yard gap between bunker and water, all credit to him.”