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."

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home