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Rose delighted as a late surge keeps him in the mix for hat-trick

 

Justin Rose's love affair with Turkey shows no signs of abating after a late hat-trick of birdies boosted his hopes of winning the Turkish Airlines Open for the third successive year. (stock photo)
Justin Rose's love affair with Turkey shows no signs of abating after a late hat-trick of birdies boosted his hopes of winning the Turkish Airlines Open for the third successive year. (stock photo)

By Phil Casey

Justin Rose's love affair with Turkey shows no signs of abating after a late hat-trick of birdies boosted his hopes of winning the Turkish Airlines Open for the third successive year.

Rose was two under par with three holes to play at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal, but picked up shots on the 16th, 17th and 18th to post a five-under-par 67 and lie just two shots behind joint leaders Tom Lewis and Matthias Schwab.

The Olympic champion is now a combined 60 under par for his 13 rounds in the event and also won its precursor, an eight-man match-play event featuring Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, in 2012.

"I guess it's job done," said the 39-year-old former World No.1, who is looking to join Sir Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam and Colin Montgomerie as the only players to win a regular European Tour event three years in a row.

"The hot finish was exactly what we needed. I was aware of the leaderboard.

"Obviously it was a perfect day to play golf as it normally is here in Turkey and I could see the lads going low.

"Our group was having some frustrations trying to make putts. The greens were bumpy and when the sun got low you could see what you're facing and it wasn't really confidence-inspiring, so I changed my mindset to just not expecting the ball to go in and just freed up my stroke because of that."

Lewis had earlier experienced similar frustrations on the greens before making six birdies in his last seven holes to set the target later matched by the in-form Schwab, whose fourth place in Shanghai on Sunday was his seventh top-10 in 14 events.

"I said to my caddie after 11, 'I'm not going to make any birdies'," Lewis said. "I hadn't made any in Portugal two weeks ago and I thought they are not going to come.

"He was like, 'Don't worry, you'll soon be saying you can't stop making them' and that's kind of what happened.

"Hopefully I can keep playing well and making as many birdies as possible."

Open champion Shane Lowry was frustrated by the state of the greens as he carded a level-par 72 to trail Race to Dubai rival Bernd Wiesberger, who tops the standings after three wins this season, by a shot.

"I played lovely all day, I can't play any better than that but I literally couldn't get the ball in the hole from three feet," Lowry, who won The Open at Royal Portrush this year, said.

Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington struggled to a 75 after finding the water three times on the par-five fourth to run up a demoralising 10.

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