Justin Rose captured his first title on The European Tour when he shot a 20 under par total of 268 to win the dunhill championship, then immediately dedicated his maiden success to his father.
Ken Rose could not be at Houghton Golf Club in Johannesburg, the city of his younger son’s birth, due to illness. However he and his wife, Annie, watched on television at home in Hampshire as Rose secured a dramatic victory with a final round of 65.
That superb seven under par effort secured the championship which eluded him 12 months earlier – with an identical total – and was achieved in front of his personal ‘army’ of supporters, including his elder brother, Brandon, and his grandparents, who reside in Johannesburg.
Rose won by two strokes from a trio of players, England’s Mark Foster, 2001 Volvo Order of Merit champion Retief Goosen of South Africa and his fellow countryman, Martin Maritz.
He said: “To win in front of my brother and grandparents was just awesome, but I just wish my mum and dad had been here and that would have been the full set. My mum was in tears when I spoke to her but this win is for my dad more than anyone. He is the guy to which I owe most.”
On a thrilling final day under cloudless South African skies, several players had opportunities to lifting the title on the immaculately prepared Houghton course, but it was Rose who became the third consecutive first-time winner in the dunhill championship following Anthony Wall in 2000 and Adam Scott last year.
Wall made another bold showing, finishing tied fifth for the second year in a row thanks to a closing 65 to share that position with Paul McGinley of Ireland and Welshman Mark Mouland on 271.
Rose began the day on 13 under par, four behind Maritz, a tall, willowy South African with a swing modelled on his boyhood idol, Ernie Els. Foster, winner of the European Challenge Tour Rankings in 2001, also played in the final group, two shots adrift, while English rookie Sandeep Grewal, a 20 year Challenge Tour player, came next three behind. Els, always a big danger, started out on the same mark as Rose.
After streaking to the turn in 31 blows Rose was ahead, with Els in close pursuit. Last year, Scott pipped him to that elusive first title. This time there would be no repeat of that second place finish as Els suffered a double bogey six at the 14th and followed it with a bogey at the 15th. He eventually finished ninth.
A bogey at the tenth let Foster into the frame and he kept the issue alive until the final hole, as did Maritz who followed an outward 39 with an inward 32 containing two eagles. By now, Goosen had gone round in 65 to finish on 270, 18 under par. He said: “I thought I needed a 63 and so it proved.”
However the clubhouse target had been fixed, and Rose duly noted it and made his move. A wonderful five iron to four feet secured a two at the 15th. He then played the shot of the week – a 35 yard bunker splash to six inches for a birdie a the 16th. Just for good measure, he then chipped to a foot at the last for a closing birdie four.
He said: “There was a couple of key moments where I was brave and pulled the trigger, especially at the 16th. I just kept saying to myself: ‘Justin, you’re a winner. You are going to win this week. It’s your turn’.”
So it proved, as both Foster and Maritz were unable to hole chip shots for eagles at the last to tie Rose. Foster said: “I put myself in contention and it was another good week. I’ve been fourth and tied second from my first four starts on The European Tour so that can’t be bad.”