Patrick Reed leads year-end event as Justin Rose hunts for Race to Dubai title
It felt like a Ryder Cup for one day in Dubai
Patrick Reed shot a 7-under 65 to open the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, the European Tour's season-ending event. Maybe more importantly, Justin Rose shot a 6-under 66.
Reed is playing for a lot. He hasn't won on either tour since August of last year, and the purse this week at the World Tour Championship is hefty, but Rose may be playing for even more.
The Englishman has won his last two events and is aiming to win Europe's answer to the FedEx Cup in the Race to Dubai (and $1.25 million first prize). There's a bit of math involved because Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia have a chance at the year-long prize, but Rose has put himself in premium position at the start start, and Fleetwood is 8 back while Garcia is 6 back.
Rose hit every green in regulation on Thursday and made just one bogey. Reed one-upped him by not making a single bogey on the day to go with seven birdies.
"I kind of wanted to come out today with good intent and sort of get myself moving forward quickly," Rose said. "Been fortunate enough to have won the last two events, but been doing so from quite a long way behind and you can't always rely on that. I was definitely keen today to come out and try and get going as quick as I could this week and see where it goes from here.
"I'm delighted with the way I played today. I don't think I missed a green."
Reed noted that winning this week is big, but he's more concerned with just trying to get better one tournament at a time and keep building for the future.
"(Winning this week is) important, but really the biggest thing for me is just improving my golf swing, improve around the greens and improve in all areas," Reed said. "Hit the ball well, putt well. I feel like earlier this year either I hit the ball well that day and didn't make any putts or I hit it great the following day and missed putts. Been inconsistent on what shows up and what doesn't."
Reed putted quite well last year, finishing No. 7 on the PGA Tour in strokes gained putting. His driving and ball-striking were mostly lousy, though, and that was the primary reason he finished with just four top 10s (or a third of what he totaled the season before).
For Reed, a win here would mean a great ending to a year that he might call a disappointment because he hasn't won. For Rose, it could mean his second Race to Dubai title (formerly the Order of Merit).
"I mean, this was not really on the radar a month ago," Rose said. "That's the perspective that I have to keep because it's an opportunity for me. Certainly be easy to start to think about it now as being in my hands, but I think for me it's still a bonus at this point.
"So there's two things to think about this week: Winning the golf tournament and winning The Race to Dubai. I know that if I do one of those, the first one, then the second one happens. I've just got to try and put together a really good final three rounds and do what I always do. You know, some weeks it happens, some weeks it doesn't, but right now things are certainly feeling a bit easier than they normally do."
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