Honma Hong Kong Open

Justin Rose finally fighting fit at Hong Kong Open – but too late to retain his title

The Englishman has been battling a back injury all week and hopes to deliver some fireworks on final day

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 December, 2016, 2:34pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 December, 2016, 11:50pm

A cracking drive on the 17th announced that Justin Rose was back to 100 per cent and the reigning champion hinted there might be further fireworks today – even though hopes of retaining the title have faded into the distance.

An even-par 70 left Rose at one under par after round three and with too much ground to make up on the leaders, but on Saturday he was finally able to cast off the back ailments that plagued him in the lead-up to the UBS Hong Kong Open.

“I drove the ball exceptionally well today and I have the power back,” said the Englishman. “I feel like I have the full range of motion back. I think it’s been the perfect week for me. Active rehab, if you like.

“I’m out here doing my job. The physios have been great. The gym facility at the hotel has been great. So it’s really been a good week to get back to being fully fit.

Watch: Roundup of Day Three at the 2016 UBS Hong Kong Open

“I hit the ball well the first two days but I felt more confident today. I hit a couple of tee shots hard. Things I wouldn’t have entertained the first few days.”

Throughout the week the 36-year-old has looked exactly like someone playing within themselves – as you must with anything at all to do with back trouble – but he said Saturday an hour-plus pre-round warm-up routine, and some helpful strapping, had done the trick.

“Anyone who plays this game for a living and travels as much as we do is going to have a bad back,” said Rose. “If you took an MRI of every player in the field they’re all going to have a bad back at some point.”

The world number felt let down by his putter – one of a number of players here this week to have bemoaned a lack of luck on the greens.

“I feel there’s a lot of good stuff happening this week but it’s just not translating on to the scoreboard,” he said. “Statistically [the problem has been] the putting but the putting feels good. I’ve hit a lot of good putts but I’ve had a hard time reading the greens this week so there’s been a lot of good putts that haven’t gone in.

“Momentum-wise that’s held me back but I’m positive about the putting nevertheless.”

Now to Sunday, and that promise to put on a show.

“No prospects in terms of winning the golf tournament but I’d like to get a good round out of it,” said Rose. “I’ve come very close to playing well this week so I’ll get out there and have some fun.”