Wednesday, 16 January 2013
Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy drink coffee   (Getty Images)
Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy drink coffee (Getty Images)

Justin Rose begins his season in Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship for the first time this week looking for a fast start to the year.

The World Number Five was only denied by the brilliance of World Number One Rory McIlroy on his last European Tour outing when he finished second in the DP World Tour Championship in neighbouring Dubai after a stunning closing 62.

And returning to the Gulf, Rose is sounding confident of the big year ahead.

“This is a great place to start the season on many levels,” he said. “Obviously there's a great field assembled here and that's who you want to compete against. The other thing about playing in the desert is you typically get a golf course that's in good condition. So a perfect place to start the season and see exactly where your game's at.

"I've felt like I wanted to get off to a strong start on The European Tour and not have to play catch up so much at the end of the year, trying to fit in tournaments. There's obviously a bit of a change in schedule with the PGA TOUR starting its 2014 season this year. So I feel like playing a little bit early now has given me the flexibility to tailor my schedule both ways at the end of the season, should I need to focus on Race to Dubai or 2014 FedExCup."

Much of the pre-tournament build-up has inevitably been focused on the top two players in the world – McIlroy and Tiger Woods – but while Rose accepts he may not have the status of the two golfing superstars, he feels his game is pretty close.

“I think status is something I'm a long way from, but I believe my game is not far at all,” he said. “I think that's two very different things.

“I'm very happy with my skill set. I'm very happy that I can close the gap or hopefully make the gap disappear with some hard work and some just continue what I'm doing. The status is obviously something that's left to everybody else but I think from a golf point of view, that's what I'm excited about is that I'm very close to the very top end of the game and I still feel I have a lot more to give.”

Rose’s experience at The Ryder Cup, where he was the only member of the European Team who played all five sessions, and the manner of his victory over Phil Mickelson in particular, backed up by strong end of season performances have put an extra spring in his step as he begins his 2013 campaign.

“The Ryder Cup was big for me,” he said. “Just really making putts when I needed to. That was huge. And then backing it up, in Turkey; even though Turkey was a casual type of environment, it was still going head to head against the world's best. That was again another big week for me confidence wise.

“And then Dubai again, just the way I went down the stretch there, I had my final round going but then didn't let up. Just kept hitting good shots and I felt like the more the pressure was on, the more calmer and better I became.

“So there's three very positive experiences in which I can draw. I just know that if I keep doing what I'm doing, those chances are going to come more and more often.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1DONALDSON, JamieWAL18-14
T2ROSE, JustinENG18-13
T2OLESEN, ThorbjørnDEN18-13
4SANTOS, RicardoPOR18-11
5GRACE, BrandenRSA18-10
T6LUITEN, JoostNED18-9
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