Rose refuses to wilt

1/19/2013 11:09:00 AM
Justin Rose  (Getty Images)
Justin Rose (Getty Images)
Justin Rose overcame a shaky start to justify taking over the favourite's tag at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

While World Numbers One and Two Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods both missed the cut in their first event of 2013, the fifth-ranked Rose began with rounds of 67 and 69 to lead by one at halfway.

That advantage disappeared when he three-putted from only 15 feet on the first, but starting at the fourth he had a run of four birdies in five holes.

They took the 32 year old Ryder Cup star, second to McIlroy in Dubai in his final tournament of last season, to 11 under par.

Two behind in joint second were Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Welshman Jamie Donaldson, whose adventures included getting his ball stuck up a palm tree at the long eighth.

Last year's Irish Open champion - his only victory in almost 270 European Tour events - still managed a par five there despite having to take a penalty drop, then birdied the 456 yard next after coming close to driving in the water.

Three strokes back in a tie for fourth were former winner David Howell, Dane Thorbjørn and Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee, who was also in contention in last week's Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa.

The early clubhouse lead had been set by Australian Andrew Dodt.

He climbed all the way from 36th into top spot with eight birdies in the first 14 holes, bogeyed the 17th, but then finished with another birdie for a joint best-of-the-week 65.

“I was straight out of the blocks,” said Dodt. “Three under through three, four under through nine, and then just rolled a few in on the back nine and it all clicked. 

“I got married two weeks ago, I don't know if that's got something to do with it, but I'm sure it has. 

“I feel last year was like a second chance, this year I just managed to get my card and this year I feel that I can come out of the blocks running and play well early on, and I managed to do that today.

“I feel pretty good. My game feels good. It all clicked today.” 

Rose pushed his drive onto the sand at the ninth just like Donaldson, but he too birdied it after hitting his approach to six feet.

That made it five in six holes and, out in 32, he was three clear at 12 under.

Fernandez-Castaño bogeyed the ninth and Donaldson failed to get up and down from sand at the short 12th, leaving Olesen in second place with Jaidee, who completed a 66 with two closing birdies.

Rose fired his tee shot to the 170 yard 12th straight at the flag. It came to rest four feet shy of the flag, but he holed again and was four clear.

He gave one of those back with a bogey on the next, while Donaldson birdied the short 15th to be back alongside Jaidee and Olesen in a tie for second.