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Justin Rose looking forward to maintaining momentum in Abu Dhabi

Rose was second on his debut in Abu Dhabi in 2013 and 12th in 2015.

Justin Rose believes he is playing the best golf of his career as he looks to start 2018 in the same way he finished 2017 in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Rose has finished no worse than 10th in his last 10 events worldwide, collecting three wins and almost snatching the Race to Dubai from Tommy Fleetwood at the death.

The Olympic champion has only played in Abu Dhabi twice, but was second on his debut in 2013 and 12th in 2015 and is among the favourites in a star-studded field also featuring world number one Dustin Johnson and the returning Rory McIlroy.

“I think I finished the season with 10 straight top 10s and that’s not been done by me and probably not been done by many,” Rose told a pre-tournament press conference.

“So that was a really solid, consistent run of golf. And then to throw three wins in there and have a couple of other chances, that was a really, really strong run of golf, and (I’m) looking forward to just keeping that momentum going as soon as possible.”

Rose ended 2017 with an eight-shot victory in the Indonesian Masters bookended by rounds of 62, before putting his clubs away for a short break over Christmas.

“I kept the body moving, kept the body fit, but didn’t really focus too much on the golf side of things,” the world number six added. “I think it’s really important to miss the game. I kind of like to have that itch to play again, then I know it’s time to go.

“I knew that I needed to take some time off, but I’m not taking a prolonged break just to keep the momentum up.

“I’m excited. I’m really enjoying my golf. I think that I’m looking at it very long-term. I’m looking at what I can really achieve in the next five years.”

Rose’s compatriot Paul Casey is also looking to make a statement at a venue where he has an impressive record, having helped Europe to victory in the EurAsia Cup last week.

Casey was victorious at Abu Dhabi Golf Club in 2007 and 2009 and returns to the event for the first time since 2014 after rejoining the European Tour in order to be eligible for the Ryder Cup.

“It’s really cool to be back,” Casey said. “What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool.

“It’s like being back at school and kind of haven’t seen everybody for two or three years. Not many people on the range are more excited than I am to be here this week.

“I’ve been thinking about it since the middle of last year. Actually I knew what I was doing from July onwards as to rejoining the Tour. So for quite a while I’ve been very excited to get back out here.

“Last week was brilliant. Great fun to be part of a team, playing for captain (Thomas) Bjorn. Good to get the victory. We needed to do that and then this week is  a golf course I know well.”

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