Volvo Masters: Rose ready to win race on merit

Impressive Englishman leaves Harrington clinging on to his title defence. By James Corrigan at Valderrama

If Justin Rose has proved anything in his astonishing rise up the rankings this year it is that he has at last summoned the "bounce-back" to put alongside his undoubted ability. Yesterday was like a microcosm of his still-young career – he blew a four-shot lead and then fearlessly reclaimed it again. A first Order of Merit title is now surely just 18 holes, and perhaps the odd mini-disaster, away.

Rose certainly seems up to anything those two belligerent golfing titans, Valderrama and Padraig Harrington, can throw at him today. Alas, the final grouping of the Volvo Masters will not be the head-to-head showdown most were hoping for after Simon Dyson's seven-birdie charge through the field earned him the right to appear alongside the leader. Not to say that the Irishman lost ground in his mission to retain his money-list title. Harrington started four off the pacesetter and the same gap remains, as 71s kept Rose on four under and Harrington, now in a tie for second, on level par.

But after two holes it was so much more intense. Rose began bogey, double bogey, meaning that with Harrington's birdie on the first, the Englishman's advantage had been wiped out in a few golfing instants. The 27-year-old went out there with Walter Hagen's old maxim ringing in his ears – "You're always going to make five mistakes". "Yeah, I wasted my quota in the first two holes," he laughed, being rather unfair to himself as it happens.

His opening five was down to a fractional misjudgement as his sand wedge screwedback on the green into three-putt country; on the next he only slightly overcooked an approach in the thick rough behind the flag. On both holes his driver had divided the fairways and he told himself: "Look, you're swinging it well, you're still joint leader in the tournament, so let's go on from here."

"A couple of years ago I probably wouldn't have seen it that clearly. I would have been frustrated. I would have panicked." And so the cool comeback began, first with a run of pars to steady his ship and then with three birdies in four holes from the eighth to whip the wind back into his sails.

What was most impressive about it all was not just the proximity of Harrington, but also of a rapidly closing field. Names of the calibre of Colin Montgomerie, Ian Poulter, Dyson and Graeme McDowell had appeared on the scoreboards, but Rose was imper-vious. "My caddie said to me, 'Listen, sometimes you're good when your back's against the wall'. It was a question of grinding."

Time and again this season, Rose has recovered from doublebogeys and worse to get straight back into it with rapid-response birdies. Nick Bradley, the coach for whom he turned his back on David Leadbetter last year, has undeniably helped in this regard, imbuing in his charge a mental toughness and self-belief that is not at all natural in this genuinelynice bloke.

Such a new-found conviction has already taken Rose to heights in the rankings he could barely have dreamt of, and his first victory of 2007 today would haul him so far into wonderland as to make the very summit suddenlyvisible. When the revised lists are published tomorrow he could not only figure in the top six, but also as the leading European.

"My goal at the start of the year was to make the top 20," he said. "So anything like that would be well above my expectations. There's plenty to play for in the last round."

You could say that. A near- £500,000 first prize for one thing, and even if Dyson can slip under the radar to deny his close friend, second or even third could give Rose the Order of Merit. Ernie Els, the absent money-list leader, must surely have given up the ghost of hanging on, which might not be a bad thing, considering all the furore caused by the South African's appearance in the Singapore Open. That decision created a somewhat bitter atmosphere to the start of this, the 20th Volvo Masters, but that has been rectified by the battle between Rose and Harrington.

It is still a long way from over, although Harrington did confess how impressed he was by his playing partner's recovery. "It was a fine return to shoot level par after that start," said the Open champion. "The advantage is with him."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
science
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links