JUSTIN Rose was left to ponder what might have been after surrendering a two-shot lead on the final day of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
The north Hampshire golfing ace had at least a share of the lead on the first three days and went into yesterday’s final round on his own at the top of the leaderboard, two strokes clear of the field.
However, Rose was unable to maintain his charge on a thrilling last day, carding a one-under-par round of 71 to end the tournament in a tie for second place on -13, one shot behind the winner, Welshman Jamie Donaldson.
Donaldson was in top form during the final round – but a slip-up on the very last hole gave Rose and playing partner Thorbjorn Olesen the chance to force a play-off.
The Welshman made five birdies to put himself two shots clear as he stood on the 18th tee, but he three-putted the final green to bogey the hole, meaning that either Rose or Olesen, in the final group just behind, could draw level with a birdie.
Both had chances, with Olesen’s effort from 15 feet slipping by before Rose went even closer. Needing to putt out from eight feet, the former Robert May’s School pupil saw his effort lip out, handing Donaldson the title.
“I didn’t do a lot wrong,” Rose said afterwards. “It’s hard to beat yourself up about it.
“It was definitely hard work today. For some reason, it was hard to see the breaks on the front nine, but I pulled it together really well and felt I got into a really good competitive mode.
“I don’t think I need to do anything different – just need to keep chipping away and keep swinging well, but it was a long, hard week to end up finishing second.”
Rose had been in excellent form over the first three days of the event. He was tied for the lead with Donaldson after an opening round of 67 (-5), which included six birdies, while he sat top of the leaderboard on his own following a second round of 69 (-3).
Big names Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy both missed the halfway cut and the attention switched to world number five Rose on day three, but he responded well. After making bogey at the first hole, the 32-year-old went on an amazing run, recording five birdies in six holes on the way to a round of 68 (-4), leaving him two shots clear.
Rose’s next event is the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, which gets under way on Wednesday.