Haotong struggled for rhythm from the outset and bogeyed the second before scrambling hard to avoid further blemishes, while Rose was content to grind out the pars while making good birdies at the seventh and the 10th which lifted him into a share of the lead. It certainly doesn't make you one under par on the first tee the next time you play, but it's something to be proud of for sure. "But this time I've got the double kind of winning feeling, so it might be a bit more fun to celebrate it at this time".
He needed help from Li, who closed with a 71 and lost the playoff with a three-putt bogey from just inside 10 feet. He looked set to cruise home when he birdied the par-three 14th to go two ahead, but after Li spectacularly eagled the 15th from just two feet to draw level, Rose birdied the 16th to lead by one with two holes to go, only to three-putt the 17th.
The Shanghai-born Li then stood in complete surprise, and with both arms outstretched, when his 8-iron second shot from 173 yards out at the par-4 10th hole ran up the back upward portion of the green only to then roll back down the slope and into the cup. I really wanted to buck that trend.
A dramatic play-off saw Rose miss a birdie putt before Li did the same and subsequently pushed his par attempt wide of the hole to hand his rival the crown. I missed a few putts, missed at least two inside eight feet.More news: Indonesia jet had damaged airspeed indicator on last four flights, says official
This is the first time that Rose has defended a tour title, after winning in Belek in 2017.
"It's taken me 20 years to defend a title and that's nice", he admitted, having earned a place in the record books by doing so as the first player to achieve the feat in a Rolex Series event.
"Just the consistency of it", he said.
"I've had some pressure-packed Sundays of late, dare I say, coming away with consolation prizes in a way". "Little simple things like the last hole, really".More news: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 could soon be available in white
Rose wouldn't be able to mathematically catch Molinari even if he did play the DP World Tour Championship because of the Italian's large lead in the race, which means the Englishman likely will not play the finale.
Rose can return to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking if he wins Sunday.
He would also join countryman Wu Ashun as only the second golfer from China to win three times on the Tour after Li claimed a maiden triumph at the 2016 China Open. Brooks Koepka will have a chance to take it back in two weeks when he defends his title at the Dunlop Phoenix Open on the Japan Golf Tour.More news: N Korea warns of returning to nuclear policy over sanction
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