AS twice-defending champion, Justin Rose is bidding to join a list of European Tour greats as he returns to the Turkish Airlines Open.
If the North Hants GC member were to successfully defend his title for the second year in a row, Rose would join Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and Ian Woosnam as the only players to achieve the feat of winning a non-Major or WGC event in three consecutive years.
The 2013 US Open Champion and 2016 Olympic Gold Medallist finished one stroke ahead of Nicolas Colsaerts and Dylan Frittelli in 2017, before defeating Li Haotong in a play-off last year to defend a title for the first time in his career.
Rose said: “You don’t get the opportunity to do that very often, so three-peat would clearly be a first for me.
“There’s a great list of players to maybe join on the European Tour, I believe it’s Monty, Faldo and Ian Woosnam – really illustrious company.
“Turkey has been a wonderful spot for me. I’ve been lucky to play well here every time I’ve been, going back to 2012.
“Played this venue in 2013, had my worst finish, third, so I need to step that up to keep my current record going.
“It’s an exciting week for me, obviously trying to go three in a row which is something I’ve never done in my career.
“I guess that’s the focus but also, you can never really approach a tournament that way,” Rose added.
“I’ve got to try and take care of business, make sure I’m prepared and get my game in good shape and then commit to the plan.
“I’m driving the ball quite well at the moment, probably my highlight of the game at the minute along with my putting.
“If I can get my mid-irons going – and maybe some five-woods and long irons into the par fives – and try to take advantage of them, obviously set up some low scoring.
“The weather is always perfect in Turkey, which generally leads to low scores.”
But, as the 2019 Race to Dubai nears its climax, Rose faces stiff competition at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal as the fight to become European No. 1 continues at the sixth Rolex Series event of the 2019 Race to Dubai season.
Rose will play alongside current Race to Dubai rankings leader Bernd Wiesberger and reigning Open Champion Shane Lowry, who sits in third on the rankings, for the first round.
Wiesberger, a winner of two Rolex Series events in 2019 after his return from a wrist injury – the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and Italian Open – leads the standings by just over 300 points with just three events to play.
“It would be amazing to win the Race to Dubai, said Wiesberger. “It’s an unbelievable list of legends, and of European golf, and world golf, that’s on that list.
“To have the chance to put my name among them would be amazing. I’m looking forward to these next events, and we’re definitely going to give it our all.
“Jon and Shane are two and three still, but Rory had a great win last week and made up a lot of points.
“We are in good position going into the last events and looking forward to what’s ahead – and hopefully giving us a good look at some decent results in all three of them,” Wiesberger added.
The winner of the Turkish Airlines Open will receive 1,500 points, with the winners of the Nedbank Golf Challenge and DP World Tour Championship, Dubai receiving 1,665 and 2,000 points respectively.
•For live scoring from the Turkish Airlines Open click here.