HONG KONG: Justin Rose targeted one “hot” run this weekend to claw his way back into the Hong Kong Open, as world number 231-ranked golfer SSP Chawrasia extended his lead on Friday.
The Englishman, who won at Hong Kong in 2015, shot 69 in a turbulent round including six birdies on day two to leave him three under-par for the tournament, six shots off the unheralded Indian player.
“I am disappointed to drop five shots but at least I made six birdies. It wasn’t easy out there,” said Rose, the Olympic champion and world number six.
“I’ve just got to wait for my run, really, where I can get hot for a round and not make some mistakes. Basically I’m in a position where one low round on the weekend is going to stand me in good stead.”
Rose, who arrived in Hong Kong this week off the back of a successful but draining schedule, said he was skipping training between rounds in order to conserve his energy.
“I’m sticking with the recovery. Sort of like no practice this week. Lots of time to myself. Lots of time in the gym just kind of really getting my body feeling great and come out I think mentally as fresh as possible each day.
“I think that I still feel good. I feel like I’m in a good position.”
In the last month, Rose has won tournaments in China and Turkey, and narrowly missed out on the Race to Dubai crown in the Middle Eastern emirate on Sunday.
Meanwhile Rose’s playing partner Sergio Garcia, the Masters champion, found the Hong Kong course’s firm greens, narrow fairways and unpredictable winds on day two even tougher.
“I played terrible the last two days. At least we managed to hold it together to make the cut, but I didn’t feel comfortable at all with my swing, and didn’t putt that great,” said the Spaniard, who hit 17 pars and a bogey to finish even-par after day two.
“It’s been a tough couple of days, but (will) hopefully get better on the weekend,” he added.
“I had the idea that the course was going to play fairly difficult, even if the weather would have been with no wind. Mainly because the greens are firm. They are not that easy to hit it close to the pin.”
Despite being the shortest course on the European Tour circuit at 6,713 yards, the Hong Kong Golf Club was playing as the fifth-hardest non-Major of 2017 after the opening round.
But Chawrasia, whose best finish in Hong Kong was fifth in 2014, made the most of slightly more benign conditions on day two to extend his lead to two strokes with an impressive 66.
He sits on nine under-par for the tournament, ahead of South Africa’s Thomas Aiken who hit the day’s best score of 64 to finish seven under.
“I was feeling today more confidence than yesterday,” said Chawrasia.
“Obviously (being) under pressure is a little bit… pressure is always tough, so I can manage hopefully the next two days.”
The Kolkata-born player has enjoyed a fine season on the Asian Tour, where he is currently ranked in fourth place overall, with only a handful of tournaments remaining this year.
He successfully defended his title at the Hero Indian Open with a seven-stroke win in New Delhi, becoming the first Indian to successfully retain a European Tour title.
A golfer who has mainly enjoyed success in home conditions — he learnt to play at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, where his father worked as the greenskeeper — Chawrasia also had his first professional win abroad at last year’s Manila Masters.