BELEK, Turkey (AFP) – Justin Rose boosted his drive to return to world number one spot by seizing a two-stroke lead on Friday (Nov 2) on day two of the Turkish Airlines Open.
Rose and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen were tied for the lead playing the last hole but Olesen bogeyed while Rose holed an eight-footer for a birdie on the Regnum Caya course.
Rose, who has moved to 12-under par after two rounds of 65, is the defending champion while Olesen, who won in 2016, shares second on 10-under par.
Also tied for second is England’s former Masters champion Danny Willett (65) along with his compatriot Tom Lewis (63).
Rose held the world number one ranking briefly in September and would return to top spot by successfully defending a tournament for a first time in his 20-year pro career.
“When I won here last year I had played catch-up for much of the first three days and other guys are capable of doing that this year,” he said.
“I’ve now shot two 65s but then you can always have somebody from the chasing pack do the same thing.
“For me it’s about keep moving forward this week. Even par is not really going to get it done, so you have to have the mentality of keep moving forward.”
Remarkably, Rose is now 71-under par for 14 rounds competing in Turkey over the years commencing with his victory in the inaugural 2012 Turkish Airlines World Grand Final.
Olesen, who won at the nearby Montgomerie course in 2016, said he was happy with his round but feels he can do better.
“I was very pleased the way I played the first 11 holes and thought I gave myself so many good chances,” he said.
“I actually missed quite a few there. But sort of a struggle coming in unfortunately, but 4-under is still a good score.”
Willett boosted hopes also of capturing a first victory since his 2016 Masters triumph with a second day showing that included seven birdies and just the one bogey.
“It’s nice and always nice to know that you’re playing good golf in practice and take it from the range or the practice area and kind of implement it a bit more on the golf course,” he said.
“I’m hitting good shots in practice and movements are good and everything is going okay.”
Willett jumped to ninth in the world in winning at Augusta National but teed-up this week in Turkey having slumped to 322.
The 31-year-old and father of two is ranked 64 on the Race to Dubai and will need to be inside the top-60 at the end of next week’s season penultimate Nedbank Challenge to be assured of teeing-up in the season decider in Dubai.
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