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Rose sets sights on Tokyo as Dubai Desert Classic begins tomorrow

Justin Rose of England. (AFP file)
Justin Rose of England. (AFP file)

Dubai - Rose is looking to break into the top 15 so that he can have a shot at defending his Olympic gold in Tokyo

By James Jose

Published: Wed 27 Jan 2021, 6:25 PM

The last time Justin Rose played in Dubai, a young Rory McIlroy, all of 19 then, landed his professional victory on the European Tour. Rose was to finish second, one stroke behind the Northern Irishman. That was way back in 2009 and it has been a while and a lot has happened since.

As Rose makes a long-awaited return to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic starting at the Majlis Course of the Emirates Golf Club on Thursday, the Englishman has had to update his old yardage book, for one. Second of all, following a roller-coaster journey that saw him rack up seven more European Tour titles to swell his tally to 11, three Ryder Cup triumphs, an Olympic gold and scaling the peak of No.1 in the world, Rose has had to reset and do it all over again.

Now ranked 38th and more mature and wiser at 44 years of age, Rose is looking to break into the top 15 so that he can have a shot at defending his Olympic gold in Tokyo.

The 2013 US Open winner beat Swede Henrik Stenson by two strokes at the 2016 Rio Olympics to become the first golfer to win in 112 years after the sport was included following a long hiatus since 1904.

According to the qualification criteria, the top 15 golfers will be eligible for the Olympics with a limit of four players from each country.

“There will be athletes all over the globe having a very focussed six months. Not everyone can compete, there’s a lot of athletes there but a lot of great talent left behind,” Rose said in a virtual interaction ahead of the Desert Classic.

“Just because you did well last time, there’s no defending champion getting his way in. Four years is a long time between events. You have to earn your way back. That’s front and centre for me. Saying that, I’ve always learned in the past you can’t chase it. My good golf has come through a process, a belief in what I’m doing and a plan and focussing on the little things and doing them really well. I can’t force my way back into the Top 15 in the World, I can only play good golf week to week and that’s the objective,” he added.

And as part of that objective, the 2007 European Tour Order of Merit (prior to it being rebranded the Race to Dubai), is looking forward to this week.

“Managed to have a good Christmas and New Year, break off as much rust as possible and always find the Middle East a brilliant place to start the season. You get a good read on your game, the golf courses are playable and in good shape. You generally expect good weather and there was enough wind last week to keep you honest. The course didn’t play that easy, I’d expect more of the same this week, maybe a bit less wind and get into a rhythm with the ball striking. Not a great finish but some positives to create a starting point for the season,” said Rose, who finished tied 57th at the season-opening Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, last week.

Coming back to the topic of the Olympics, Rose is not overly concerned if he cannot make the cut.

“It’s not a concern if you’re not in the team,” said Rose, who was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2017.

“For the sake of golf, even if I’m not there I’d love it to go ahead. It was a great spectacle last time and I think, biased of course, golf came out pretty well. Clearly the English lads are playing really well. There’s going to be quite a few guys to get past, but my goal would be to be in the Top 15 in the World. That should be a pretty strong position to make the team,” he added.


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