Haotong Li leads at Turkish Airlines Open, Rose still eyes No. 1

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Haotong Li leads at Turkish Airlines Open, Rose still eyes No. 1

Euro Tour

Haotong Li leads at Turkish Airlines Open, Rose still eyes No. 1

Justin Rose needs to dig deep in the final round of the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open if he wants to get back to World No. 1. Defending champion Rose trails China’s Haotong Li by three shots with 18 holes to go.

Li began the day three shots adrift of Rose but claimed the top spot with a 9-under 63 to move to 17 under. Rose shares second with Frenchman Alexander Levy on 14 under. Thorbjorn Olesen, the 2016 winner, is a shot further back on 13 under.

Rose can return to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking if he wins Sunday. He’ll need to play better than he did in round three if he’s to become the first player to successfully defend a Rolex Series title.

The 37-year-old Englishman made too many mistakes to maintain his grip on the tournament. Four bogeys, three of them on the back nine, spoiled his card.

“I struggled with my focus today I felt, and my concentration, and I made a couple questionable decisions out there,” said Rose, who signed off with a bogey at the 18th. “Little simple things like the last hole, really. I knew 5-wood was probably the right club off the tee, but I knew it was a tougher pin and sort of tried to force the issue a little bit, because 3-wood ran out into the bunkers today.

“It was maybe just a little bit of tiredness, I don’t know, but the focus today was probably the biggest difference.

“I think it’s the same situation I was in last year. I was two back last year. To this point it’s all water under the bridge, isn’t it? So you just have to come out tomorrow like I did today and play well.”

The highlight of Li’s round came at the par-4th 10th when he holed his second shot for an eagle two.

“That was quite a special moment for myself at the tenth, and the second shot was like 173 yards, with 8-iron,” he said. “I tried to hit a high fade, which I did, but it was a little bit of a flyer lie and finished pin-high, which is a little long, but luckily from the top it rolled in.

“I saw my name at the top of the leaderboard. It was quite exciting at that time. I start thinking, if I make a couple birdies, it’s going to be perfect for tomorrow, but to finish like that is good enough for me.”

Li is looking for his second win of the year following the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. He took down Rory McIlroy on that occasion, so he won’t back down from Rose.

“I have definitely got a lot of confidence from Dubai and, since then, I’ve been playing a lot of big events, which has built my confidence. It’s going to be an exciting day tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to going up against Rosey.”

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