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April 9, 2015

Justin Rose


MODERATOR:   Good afternoon.  I'd like to welcome Justin Rose to the press center, congratulations on a great round today of 67.
This is Justin's 10th Masters appearance and his best finish to date was fifth in 2007.
Perhaps talk us through the highlights of your round.
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, absolutely.  I guess playing in the group that I was today was a highlight to start the day, playing with the defending champion gave it a nice atmosphere out there on the golf course.  That felt like it got the day off to a good start with the excitement level out there.
First birdie of the day came at No. 3, drove it down just in front of the green, chipped it up and made a nice sort of 10‑, 15‑footer from behind the hole.
But I think the nice momentum keeper for me was the up‑and‑down I made on No. 4.¬† I was in the front right bunker, which is not always a great spot to be to the back left pin, but got a good up‑and‑down there, which I felt really settled everything down and I felt like could play a good round of golf from there.
Again, backed that up with birdies at 5 and 6 by hitting a couple good iron shots.

Q.  I think you've led three times before here after the first round.  Is there anything that happened or didn't happen after that first round that you can draw upon or try not to do?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† Get ahead of yourself, yeah.¬† So much can happen around this golf course, and by no means am I worried about going wire‑to‑wire or anything like that.¬† I think it's just about playing good, solid golf, executing my game plan and giving myself a chance on Sunday.¬† A lot can happen, so you have to keep it ‑‑ this golf course is all about executing your game plan.
There's so many shots out there, especially around Amen Corner, that can ruin a scorecard.  So there's really no point in getting ahead of yourself.  One thing I've learned on this golf course is that if you do make a bogey or two, when you start to chase around here to make up for it, it's not always the best decision.
I've definitely learned the hard way a couple of times, which was obviously a good experience.  By playing well and swinging well, then I should be able to keep executing the game plan.

Q.  You mentioned 4, 5 and 6.  Talk a little more about how important that stretch of holes can be for kick starting a round or having it go the other way?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I would say the first six holes, maybe even now seven; 7 is an interesting hole, it can give you a birdie but can certainly make bogey there just as easily.
Yeah, the first seven holes, if you get through there even par, I think you'd probably take that and then try to build a score for the rest of the round.  But anything that you squeeze out of the golf course early, I think is a bonus.  Obviously today, that really set up my round and made me feel like I could put a good number together.

Q.  Just curious, playing with the defending champion and calmed you down and gave you a good atmosphere; some people would find that intimidating.  Could you go a bit deeper, why that was a good feeling and sense for you?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, I haven't been in contention to have those feelings of late.  The Florida Swing, which is a stretch of golf I've normally really played well in, and normally get myself into contention quite regularly through the Florida Swing, and that hasn't been the case this year.
I guess just that little sort of feeling of the spotlight being on you and the pressure there, and you know, the crowd and the energy and atmosphere that you normally get later towards the back end of a golf tournament, I felt like I had that feeling early today.  It was just a nice bit of energy or adrenaline to really kick start my game.
I felt like I've been practicing really well the last two, three weeks, and it was nice just to be able to take it into the arena today.

Q.  You touched on it there.  Why haven't you been in contention most of the season; what's been the story of the season so far for you?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I had to iron out a few kinks.  I wasn't that happy with where my swing was at about a month ago.  Chopping and changing putters a couple times through the Florida Swing.
Then I just didn't really enjoy the Florida Swing that much with the weather and the golf courses, and just the various setups and this and that.  So didn't really go for me for the first month or so of the year.
But when you have a little bit of a struggle, it forces you to make a decision to work a little bit harder, and that's what I've done the last sort of‑‑ well, about the last month.¬† Hopefully we'll begin to see the start of a payoff, yeah.

Q.¬† Just a brief follow‑up.¬† Your wrist injury, how long did that affect your play?¬† And was Houston crucial to getting momentum coming in?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† Yeah, the wrist injury was really a non‑start.¬† It was really the one week in San Diego that it was bothering me, and from that moment on, it hasn't been an issue.¬† People have been saying it's because of the wrist that I haven't been playing well; that's really not the case.
Yeah, Houston, even though I finished 30‑something, I felt like I was close to playing well there and saw a lot of encouraging signs in my game.¬† It was a good decision for me to play Houston.¬† It's not something I've typically done heading into Augusta.¬† I've normally had the two weeks off prior.
Last week I got off to a slow start, 6‑over through 12, and I felt that it was important for me to maybe play the week before the tournament rather than think about the Masters for two weeks coming in here.¬† Then the day arrives and you've been thinking about it too much.
I thought for me the decision to play Houston was a good one, and obviously from today's point of view, it paid off.

Q.  You talked about the save on 4, but on the 2nd, that was a good par from that drive, as well.
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† Absolutely.¬† I hit a bad tee shot there.¬† You can't really afford to go left on that hole and had no chip outside.¬† I had really nothing to the right and I could have been backwards maybe 50 yards, but I had this one gap, high in the trees to the left and hit a 5‑wood, big slice; and probably a little bit fortunate because it looked like it went through the last tree to get back on the fairway.
And then I hooked a 9‑iron, probably a 30‑yard hook with a 9‑iron on to the green.¬† I said to Bubba, "I'm playing Bubba golf."¬† I was referring to the hook iron rather than the shot at the trees (laughter).¬† We had a good smile at that.

Q.  You said you were inspired by Seve Ballesteros; today was his birthday, I don't know if you thought about it during the day, as this was a quite special course for him.
JUSTIN ROSE:  That is news to me about his birthday, thanks for sharing that.  Obviously we'll toast him tonight at dinner.
Yeah, he's definitely been sort of a hero of mine growing up.¬† I remember when I won the Memorial, he was the honoree at that tournament, and a few times that week, I sort of tried to channel his short game powers and got the ball up‑and‑down a couple times that week.
And obviously when I won the tournament, it was nice to win it with him involved‑‑ this is Jack's tournament I'm talking about, the Memorial, wasn't sure if I was clear.
I have a great book signed by Jack and signed by Seve in 2010 of that winning event.  So that's a very special keepsake.

Q.  Seeing Paul Casey up on the board, he's a guy you know well.  Can you just talk about the natural talent he has that maybe went away a little bit, but clearly he's come back here?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, I think he's got something to prove, for sure.  I don't think he liked being out of the limelight or being talked about with maybe myself and Westy and Luke and this and that.  I definitely think he's got something to prove.
I played with him last week, and he's playing very well, driving the ball particularly well.  He's got one of my good friends on the bag, David Clark.  So it's good to see him playing well.

Q.  Having won at Merion, and of course Bobby Jones playing quite a bit at Merion and winning there, do you feel an extra special connection to Augusta because of the Merion win?
JUSTIN ROSE:  To be honest I haven't really made that link, but I'd like to make that link from now, yeah.  Some good memories for sure.
I think Augusta definitely just stands out by itself.  It's such a special place, such an amazing place.  I've created my own good memories here.  I really enjoy it and I really enjoying sharing it with friends and family.  I enjoy the whole occasion, the practice rounds, the Par3.  And getting in contention and the magic on a back nine on a Sunday is like nothing else.  It's obviously a great tournament, but yeah, that's a cool link.

Q.  You were talking about executing the game plan.  How does the game plan change over the years as you gain experience here and as the golf course changes?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, you always learn something new.  You always pick up a little bit of information or a different line or a putt or a bunker that's actually a pretty good spot to miss in that you didn't realize before because you can use the backboard down to a certain pin location.
I think the thing about Augusta is a bunker can be terrible to one pin and great to another pin.  So you need to really know, depending on where the pin location is, suddenly where the strategy is for that particular pin.  So that's why it takes a bit of time to get used to it.
You don't see all the pins in practice, and it's not like they have four pins.  There's about probably ten pins per green that they can use and they are all subtly different.  That's really the art of playing here quite a few times.  Like you say, ten times; I've played here enough now to sort of have made good notes over the years.
I was actually laughing; it's the one course that maybe drives us more crazy than the rest, we get a bit more obsessive about it.  I was looking at my notes and yardage books, and I could probably fill a whole book with the information I've gathered over the years.
But the end of the day, you've to step up and hit the shot.  It's all knowing where to hit it and where not to hit it, but that's only half the battle.  The rest is actually getting up there and doing it.

Q.  You mentioned it's not been your best year, three missed cuts in five.  Though you've been preparing well and hitting the ball, you couldn't have expected this, could you?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, I think you've got to believe in yourself.  You've got to believe that you're a champion.  I'm a Major Champion and won great tournaments.  I knew my game was there; it just had not shown up yet.
But yeah, it hasn't been that big a surprise for me.¬† It's great to see.¬† You know, didn't have a ton of form‑‑ like you say, didn't expect it, but it doesn't surprise me.

Q.  How much does it help that you're a veteran at this place now, and you just feel comfortable knowing that you can continue doing what you're doing?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, I think that does help.  I think like I said, I've learned a few lessons around here, and I think you've got to learn some patience on this golf course.
Obviously I played with Gunn Yang today, and you could see, he could just see he obviously got off to a poor start and made a few bogeys.  It's so easy to chase it around here.
It reminded me of in 2004, when I led the tournament after two rounds and shot 81 Saturday.¬† I remember doing the same thing.¬† Got off to sort of a nervy start, but then tried to chase it, tried to make birdies to all the wrong pins; and then tried to go at the par 5s with 5‑woods and 3‑woods, and just stuff that you shouldn't do.¬† And you kind of learn; that was obviously a great learning experience for me, and sometimes you just have to learn the hard way.

Q.  What was it that you had Seve and Jack autograph?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, the Memorial book, the official book for the Memorial, which obviously has a whole bio on Seve and this and that.  Jack wrote a nice piece to me, and so did Seve.  It was good.

Q.  Do you remember your first time playing here?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I remember it being 2003.  I remember it being very wet.
My wife reminded me today, I spent my first Thursday at Augusta watching a movie.  The whole day was washed out.  I remember watching a movie and thinking that's not what I expected my first day at Augusta to be like.  That was 2003, I think.
I also remember 2003, Seve coming up to me and giving me a little‑‑ putting his arm around me.¬† I've seen a video of it somewhere.¬† And my mom is there, as well.¬† Just giving me an encouraging couple minutes of pep talk.¬† He was always very good to me out on Tour.

Q.  You mentioned a minute ago one of those occasions when you had a lead and didn't carry it through the weekend.  But you've been a leader here after numerous rounds.  What kind of lessons did you learn from each of them that you can carry forward and maybe get a different outcome in the end this time?
JUSTIN ROSE:  You know, I've led this tournament early, and there's so much golf left that I don't think it's even worth paying attention to, to be honest with you.
I was young, very young, when I had the opportunity, after two rounds in 2004.
My best chance was in 2007 where I finished fifth there; I was one back with two to play.  That was the year Zach Johnson won.  I was really in contention that particular time.  Standing on the 17th tee, I was within one.  I've been there on the back nine, and, yeah, it feels great.
Obviously there's a lot that can happen in this tournament, and especially on the back nine.  You can make a run.  You don't necessarily have to be leading.  The course offers you an opportunity to put a run together on the back nine, and if you are leading, that means the chasing pack can do the same thing.  So there's really no point in getting too ahead of yourself with it.
Like Bubba said, I think he said that he just wanted to finish it out and wanted to stay focused and didn't really celebrate; he had a three‑shot lead playing 18, just wanted to tap‑in and get the job done.¬† You can't get ahead of yourself on this golf course.
MODERATOR:  Thank you very much. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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