Justin Rose returns to action with a top-50 finish in California

Basingstoke Gazette: Justin Rose. Justin Rose.

HOOK golfer Justin Rose warmed up for the first World Golf Championship event of the year by finishing in a share of 45th place at the Northern Trust Open at the weekend.

The 33-year-old finished the event, played at Riviera Country Club, in Pacific Palisades, California on one-under-par, 14 shots behind winner Bubba Watson.

The event was Rose’s first of the year following a shoulder injury and he was never really in contention. An opening round of 71 (-1) left him five shots off the pace and he was 10 shots off the lead following a second round of 72 (+1).

The former Robert May’s School pupil played better on the third day, an eagle at the first setting him up for a round of 68 (-3), but he remained nine shots behind and was unable to make further inroads on the final day, shooting 73 (+2).

Rose will return to action on Wednesday, taking on world number 66 Scott Piercy in the opening round of the Accenture Match Play Championship, the first World Golf Championship event of 2014.

The north Hampshire golfer will face either Ernie Els or Scotland’s Stephen Gallagher on Thursday if he is able to beat Piercy, while a match against Luke Donald or Jason Dufner could be on the cards in the last 16 on Friday.

Matt Kucher and Thomas Bjorn are potential quarter-final opponents on Saturday, while Rose could face Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley or last week’s winner, Watson, in the semi-finals the following day.

However, the world number five cannot face Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson or Ian Poulter before the final, which will also take place on Sunday.

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