Rose prepares for battle as European Tour tees off in Hong Kong

 22 Nov 2017 - 10:37

Rose prepares for battle as European Tour tees off in Hong Kong
A file photo of English professional golfer Justin Rose. Reuters.

AFP

Hong Kong, Golf's world number six Justin Rose said ice baths and a team of fitness experts helped him keep up his energy last season, as he eyes a fast start to the new European Tour in Hong Kong.

Rose takes his place among Europe's top golfers at the Hong Kong Open Thursday just days after the 2017 circuit finished.

His unflagging energy saw him win tournaments in China and Turkey in the space of a month before narrowly missing out at the seasonal finale in Dubai last weekend.

"Today is my off-season!" joked a bleary-eyed Justin Rose on Tuesday, hours after flying in from the Middle East.

"I take the day off today and then we get going again tomorrow.

"I'll definitely do [ice baths], a lot of contrast -- hot-cold stuff. I'll do that pre-round, post-round sometimes.

"I track my heart rate variability every day to get a bit of a snapshot of how my body is coping with time changes, and jet lag. If I need to focus on recovery I will. If I need to focus on fitness I will."

It is a punishing schedule for today's golfers, who jet back and forth across time zones for tournaments while keeping their bodies in a peak athletic condition that has become essential in the modern game.

And as events such as the Asian Tour's historic Hong Kong Open are added to the European Tour's winter schedule as jointly sanctioned competitions, the season's start has shifted earlier and earlier.

The Englishman's next stop is the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas next Thursday, a tournament run by the Tiger Woods Foundation which is expected to see the hotly-anticipated return of its namesake golfing superstar.

"The sooner you can win in a tour season the better," Rose told AFP.

"The way I look at it, it counts for the 2018 season but also calendar-year wise it affords you the opportunity to go into Christmas and the New Year with some momentum."

Other European stars have taken a marginally more restful approach.

Both Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson, previous Tour winners, sat out the Dubai finale last weekend after opting not to rush back from injuries in favour of a brief winter break.

More Majors, more babies

Sergio Garcia, who has also travelled from Dubai to Hong Kong this week, admitted he was reluctant to see the 2017 season end.

The year has seen him bag his first Major victory -- in a record 74th attempt -- at the Masters, while also finding time to get married to golf reporter Angela Akins, with a child on the way.

But the Spaniard is also looking resolutely forward.

"You start a new year and you kind of reset," explained Garcia.

"You want to make sure you keep moving forward and keep putting yourself in position to win more tournaments and more Majors, and probably make more babies and all those things!"

And there is another reason for Garcia to approach the new tour season with particular zeal.

"It's a Ryder Cup year so it's always a special year. We're excited to give it a shot and try to get the cup back."

European players qualify for Ryder Cup positions primarily by playing at events sanctioned by the continent's own tour, including the Hong Kong Open.

The Hong Kong Golf Club, home to the competition for more than 50 years, ranks as a host venue second in longevity only to the Augusta Masters among professional golf tournaments.

But while the subtropical environs of the Asian city may seem a long way from Europe, Garcia sees some advantageous similarities.

"To me, [the course] kind of has a feeling of a Valderrama, not as extreme as Valderrama but it's very much a 'position' kind of golf course," said Garcia, referring to the famous Spanish course where won the Valderrama Masters last month.

"You have to be precise and I love that kind of golf course."