Former champion Justin Rose commits to next month’s Hong Kong Open, but International Races off the cards this time
The 2015 winner is looking forward to again gracing the familiar surrounds of Fanling, while Tommy Fleetwood and Rafa Cabrera Bello also return
Many are set to benefit from the scheduling shift that ensures the UBS Hong Kong Open no longer clashes with the Longines Hong Kong International Races, but Justin Rose doesn’t consider himself one of them.
Rose Tweeted a picture of himself at Sha Tin after finishing his final round last year, but he is aware a visit to the showpiece event is not an option this time around.
“The races were incredible, I really enjoyed it,” he said on committing to next month’s Open at Hong Kong Golf Club. “It would have been absolutely [on my radar] had I been able to make it.
“With [the Race to Dubai finale] before, and afterwards I have the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, I’m racing to and from so I can’t really find a day to enjoy myself.
“I actually bought my wife a horse for her 40th birthday called Master Merion, so we’ve definitely become a lot more into the racing in the last year or so.”
Only trophy I'm getting near this week! Made it to Hong Kong International races after my round. pic.twitter.com/qnGCven7pz
— Justin Rose (@JustinRose99) December 11, 2016
While Master Merion (named after the course where he won the 2013 US Open) has been a regular visitor to the winners stall in 2017, Rose has failed to taste victory this year and the 2015 Hong Kong Open champion is hopeful of changing that.
“It would be great to get in the winner’s circle before the year is out. The Race to Dubai and starting the 2018 European Tour season in Hong Kong is an important run for me,” Rose said from home in the Bahamas, were he is easing his way back into golf after some time off.
“With Hong Kong starting the following season it’s always really important to get off to a good start and carry some momentum through into the new year.
“It’s definitely one of my favourite events on tour, just given that Fanling is a great traditional track and also you get to stay downtown in one of my favourite places in Hong Kong. It’s a great week for me on the course and a great week for me off the course.”
Last season was by no means a flop for Rose, who came agonisingly close to a second career major in losing to Sergio Garcia in a play-off at April’s Masters.
Refreshed after his break, Rose will play in Shanghai, Turkey and Dubai before Hong Kong and expects to be in top nick come late November.
“I think the most important thing about getting ready for the new season is having had the ability to shut down and switch off,” he said.
“I think it’s really important for me to get to a point where I miss the game and I’m itching to start practising and playing again. This week is the first week I’m gearing things back up and I feel motivated.
“I think by the time I get to Hong Kong I’ll be in good form. I’ll have played three tournaments and everything should be sharp and ready to go.”
It has also been confirmed Tommy Fleetwood and Rafa Cabrera Bello will return to Fanling, while it was announced in August that Garcia will make his Hong Kong debut.
“It’ll be fun to have us both in the same field, the Masters obviously was the moment so far this year where I am going to look back and think about what could have been,” Rose said, acknowledging that past form will count for little come November 23-26.
“The course doesn’t remember, respect who the player is. You have to go ahead and create a whole new approach to a tournament.”
Rose arrived in Hong Kong with both a back injury and an Olympic gold medal in tow last year and, while he assures fans his back troubles are well behind him, he is still riding the wave of his victory in Rio.
“It’s been such a surprise in terms of how it’s resonated with the golfing public. I don’t play a round on tour where I don’t hear something about the gold medal,” he said.
“It really has lasted so much longer than any other tournament I’ve ever won, which is fantastic because we didn’t know really what the Olympics meant to golf.
“I think it becomes important to the pros if it’s important to the general public and the fans.”