Injured Rose fit to continue money list fight in Portugal

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VILAMOURA, Portugal, Oct 17 (Reuters) Order of merit title contender Justin Rose said he was almost certain to play in tomorrow's Portugal Masters despite suffering another back scare.

The Briton can overtake money-list leader Ernie Els and second-placed Padraig Harrington, both absent this week, by finishing second on the Algarve.

Rose, who has had one win and three seconds on the European Tour this season, trails World Match Play champion Els by 352,800 dollars.

A recurring disc problem flared up again on Saturday, forcing the 27-year-old Englishman to miss Wednesday's pro-am as a precautionary measure.

''I was stuck lying on a table for five minutes, lucky I was with my chiropractor when it happened,'' Rose told reporters.

''The problem is I've played a lot more golf recently than I have for a long time.

''It's the same injury I had in 2001 and it occurred again this year when I had to take six weeks off before the U S Masters.

There's a weakness there I have to be careful of.

''There's a 99 per cent chance I'll play (tomorrow). If I'd played in the pro-am it might have been 50-50.'' Rose needs to play here and at the season-ending Volvo Masters in Valderrama in two weeks' time to complete his mandatory 11 tour events.

''I had no aspirations to win the order of merit at the start of the year so it will be a bonus,'' Rose said. ''It's a great thing to achieve.'' MCILROY AIM Teenage Briton Rory McIlroy is also looking for a top-two finish here.

The 18-year-old from Northern Ireland, playing his fourth event as a professional after third and fourth-place finishes in the last two weeks, again tries to become the tour's youngest winner.

''My main goal is a top-two place,'' said McIlroy. ''That will get me into the Volvo Masters.'' McIlroy is already seventh on the points table for next year's Ryder Cup.

''I'm not focused on the Ryder Cup at the minute,'' he said.

''If I play well next year you never know what can happen.

''I'm just trying to put it at the back of my mind at the minute and try to play golf. That's not a huge goal of mine because I have 20 more years to play Ryder Cups.'' This week's tournament also sees the usual scramble for playing cards for next season, with several competitors looking to pull clear of the money-list danger zone in the penultimate counting event.

Germany's Sven Struver holds 118th position, the final qualifying spot.

Reuters BJR RN2138

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