SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) - After climbing to a career high fifth in the world rankings and featuring in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory, Justin Rose could be forgiven for resting on his laurels as the 2012 season draws to a close.
Since he has been mining a rich vein of form in recent months, however, the Briton has his eye on yet more glory before putting away his clubs for the year.
When he tees up in the first round of the $7 million HSBC Champions event at Mission Hills on Thursday, Rose’s first target will be to add a second World Golf Championship title to the Cadillac Championship he won at Doral in March.
That could be the stepping stone to his final ambition of 2012, coming out on top of what looks being a tight finish to the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.
That would give him a second European Order of Merit triumph to add to the one he achieved in 2007, when he outpaced major winners Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington by winning the end of season Volvo Masters at Valderrama in Spain.
The 32-year-old Englishman currently lies third in the money list, 888,774 euros ($1.15 million) behind leader and world number one Rory McIlroy.
The Ulsterman is not in China, however, having opted instead to take a week off and follow his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki play her final WTA tennis event of the year in Bulgaria.
A Rose victory on Sunday would earn him 921,376 euros and take him past McIlroy with just two weeks of tournaments to be played before the Race comes to a climax in the United Arab Emirates in three weeks time.
Since Rose will not be playing at the Singapore Open or Hong Kong Open, let alone the South African Open which also counts towards the final tally, his four rounds in China could prove crucial to his chances.
“The goal this week is to give myself a chance going into Dubai,” Rose said on Wednesday.
“That would mean trying to put myself to within the difference between first and second prize money in Dubai - knowing that if I win there and Rory finishes second, I can still win the race.
“I am in Rory’s hands to a certain extent but I know I have to win this week to give myself that chance. So from the race to Dubai perspective it’s a very important week this week.”
Rose certainly feels his golf is in good enough shape to achieve his aim, having finished second in the U.S. Tour Championship before the Ryder Cup and then winning the inaugural World Golf Final after playing for Europe at Medinah.
“I am definitely in a good run of form,” he said. “I am proud about this year as a whole.
“To this point it’s the consistency I have had that I have been most pleased with and every time I tee off I feel my game is there or thereabouts and that gives me confidence coming into this week.”
Rose, however, should not discount a third name in the Race to Dubai frame.
McIlroy would also be overtaken at the top of the money list if Swede Peter Hanson managed to win a second straight title on Sunday afternoon after last week’s BMW Masters triumph in Shanghai. ($1 = 0.7705 euros)
Editing by Nick Mulvenney