Rose debuts in Abu Dhabi

BY European Tour | European PGA Tour | 2013 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship | Preview | 17 Jan 2013

Justin Rose begins his annual campaign for the first time in this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, where the World Number Five is looking to build on a superb 2012 season.

Rose 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 round of 62.

And on his return to the Gulf this week, the Ryder Cup star, who also finished behind McIlroy in The 2012 Race to Dubai, is confident of getting off to a fast start on his debut visit to Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

“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 very good condition. So it’s a perfect place to start the season and see exactly where your game’s at.

“I 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 US PGA Tour starting its 2014 season this year. So I feel that by starting my season a little earlier, it should hopefully give me the flexibility to tailor my schedule both ways at the end of the season, should I need to focus more on The Race to Dubai.”

Much of the pre-tournament build-up has inevitably focused on the World Numbers One and Two, McIlroy and Tiger Woods; and while Rose accepts he has not yet achieved the superstar status of golf’s two biggest attractions, he feels his game does not suffer by comparison with theirs.

“I think their 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. The status is obviously something that’s left to everybody else, but I think from a golfing point of view, 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 2012 Ryder Cup – where he was the only member of the European Team to play all five sessions – and in particular the manner of his victory over Phil Mickelson, have also put an extra spring in his step.

“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 [at the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final] 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.

“Then in Dubai, just the way I went down the stretch there, where I didn’t let up. I just kept hitting good shots, and I felt like the more the pressure was on, the more calmer and better I played.

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

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