ANTALYA, Turkey – Don’t underestimate what his dramatic 1-up singles victory at the Ryder Cup has done for the confidence of Justin Rose.
The Englishman continued his stellar play, capping an undefeated week with a victory over Lee Westwood to capture the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final on Friday.
Here are 5 Things to take away from the week in Turkey . . .
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ROSE BLOOMS AGAIN
Less than two weeks after taking Phil Mickelson down in Ryder Cup singles to secure a crucial point for the Europeans in the Ryder Cup, Justin Rose took down fellow Englishman and Ryder Cup teammate Lee Westwood in the finals to win the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final.
Rose, who did not lose a match over the four days and five matches of competition, was the most consistent player during a week in which World No. 1 Rory McIlroy won no points in the medal-match play format and Tiger Woods had to claw his way into the semifinals, where he lost to Rose.
Shooting a 5-under 66 in the bogey-free finale, Rose grabbed the lead early with a birdie on the very first hole, but after Westwood birdied the par-3 eighth hole, both would turn at 2-under 33.
Rose again would take the lead on the par-4 10th hole with a birdie, but this time he would not relinquish it, adding a crucial birdie on the par-3 17th to extend a one-shot lead to two.
Rose’s flair for the dramatic was evident this week as he birded the 17th twice, both over Westwood and both when Westwood had birded the par-5 16th to put pressure on his Ryder Cup teammate.
“Lee kid of flipped the script there on me. I thought his ball was in the hazard, and he ends up making 4 and I make 5, and from that moment on it was going to be a tight finish,” Rose said of his mind-set waling off the par-5 16th. “He hit a great short into the 17th, and I really felt I needed to make that putt. I made a good putt on the 17th already against Lee and obviously the 17th against Phil came to mind, too, so just drawing on positive experiences doesn’t make you make the putt, but it was nice to have something positive to look at.”
Rose won $1.5 million for his work in Turkey, and Westwood earned $1 million for finishing runner-up, but the more curious question is this: Is Rose in the middle of making the next step to the highest echelon of golf?
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Lee Westwood played well in Turkey, but just not good enough. Now it’s back to the grind of the European Tour with a game he thinks is tuned for the homestretch.
“Five massive tournaments left,” Westwood said of his schedule that will head to China, Dubai, Sun City in South Africa and the Thailand Masters. “If I keep this form up, I may have a sniff at the Order of Merit.”
Westwood was 22 under this week, one better than Rose, but maybe more impressive was his short game continues to improve and is slowly becoming an benefit versus a hindrance.
“I’ve only won twice this year, so I’d obviously like to win more tournaments before the year’s out,” Westwood said. “I’m working on my game and I’m pleased with the way things are going. “I had a couple of chips out there that probably wouldn’t have got up and down (in the past), and I’m rolling the ball well.”
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AMATEUR VS. PROFESSIONAL
The week before the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final, the Eisenhower Trophy was contested over the same PGA Sultan Course at Antalya Golf Club. In a rain-shortened, 54-hole affair, Mexico’s Sebastian Vazquez shot 15 under to finish low individual.
That score would have looked pretty good the next week in the World Golf Final, beating every player in the first three matches, including World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and No. 2 Tiger Woods.
Lee Westwood, at 8 under for the first three rounds, was the best of the lot; McIlroy was 4 over, and the rest were mixed in between.
It seems to speak positively for the state of amateur golf, but then of course when the pressure was on in the semifinals, Westwood shot 10 under.
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HOW HARD WAS IT?
At 7,010 yards, the par-71 PGA Sultan Course showed its teeth early and then calmed down as time went on. Maybe it was the desire to show the pros they can’t just eat the place up or it was an over-enthusiastic greenskeeper, but after the first-day difficulties in scoring – only Charl Schwartzel (69) broke 70 – the course eased up and the players started doing what they do best: make birdies.
After a scoring average of 72 in Tuesday’s first round, the scores fell considerably. During the next two rounds, the scoring average was 67 as it was in the semifinals.
But with the trophy on the line, Rose and Westwood scored the best all week with a scoring average of 66.5 in the finals and a total scoring average of 68.3 for the tournament.
There were 10 eagles and 64 birdies over 30 rounds of golf.
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WHAT A PRO-AM
After the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final crowned a champion, it was back to the course for the pro-am. In an unusual twist, the eight-man pro-am was played after the event and not before. Even more interesting than the timing may be the cost: $60,000 for a three-man team to play nine holes with one of the seven players. If you wanted to play with Tiger Woods, the number was rumored to grow by a factor of five, to $300,000 for a nine-hole team and boost the total money generated from the pro-am to $1.440 million. Not a bad haul for just eight guys.