Justin Rose opens strong in Dubai, gains advantage in Race to Dubai

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Justin Rose opens strong in Dubai, gains advantage in Race to Dubai

Euro Tour

Justin Rose opens strong in Dubai, gains advantage in Race to Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose only needed 18 holes to turn the tables on Tommy Fleetwood. The Olympic champion is now in pole position to finish 2017 as European No. 1.

Fleetwood, on the other hand, is now playing catch-up.

Rose outscored Fleetwood by seven shots in the opening round of the $8 million DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, the final event of the 2016-17 European Tour schedule. The 37-year-old carved out a 6-under 66 while Fleetwood suffered from closing night nerves with a 73.

Rose is tied for second place with Scott Hend, one shot behind Patrick Reed. Fleetwood is T-46.

The 2013 U.S. Open champion trails Fleetwood by 256,737 points in the Race to Dubai. He needs to finish solo fifth or better to have a chance of overhauling Fleetwood. He’s not only given himself a chance of achieving that, he’s in position to win the tournament. Fleetwood has no chance if Rose wins.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have won the last two events, but been doing so from quite a long way behind,” said Rose, who arrived in Dubai after consecutive victories in the WGC–HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Opens. “I was definitely keen today to come out and try and get going as quick as I could this week and see where it goes from here.”

Fleetwood had a ringside seat to watch Rose lay out his intentions, since the two were paired together in the opening round. While Rose played like the European No. 1, Fleetwood looked like he belonged 46th in the rankings.

The 26-year-old Fleetwood double-bogeyed the first, failed to get up and down for birdie on the par-5 second and bogeyed the third.

“It was a nervy start,” Fleetwood admitted. “You’re always going to be nervous. It all comes down to this at the end of the year and playing for the biggest achievement in my career. But the first hole was like a comedy of errors.

“It is actually kind of out of my hands all of a sudden. Thankfully it’s not a one-round tournament. So let’s have a good 54 holes.”

That’s the least he needs with the smart money now on Rose to become European No. 1 for a second time, and first since 2012.

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