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June 17, 2015

Justin Rose


BETH MAJOR: Good afternoon. Welcome to the 2015 U.S. Open Championship at Chambers Bay. It's my pleasure to welcome this afternoon 2013 U.S. Open champion, Justin Rose. Currently ranked No. 5 the world, finished runner-up at the Memorial and won the Zurich Classic a few weeks ago. This is his 10th U.S. Open. Justin, certainly this is a bit of a different U.S. Open for the competitors this week. Can you talk about Chambers Bay and your impressions of the course?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. We've all been hearing references to The Open Championship and a linksy feel. But it does have that sort of big scale of something in the Pacific Northwest. The bunkers are huge, depth perception is quite difficult to take in the first time you play it. It's been a lot of fun trying to learn the golf course.

BETH MAJOR: You tweeted about the crowds at Chambers Bay. Can you talk about the excitement and the excitement and the spectators here?

JUSTIN ROSE: There's been -- there's a good buzz about it. I feel like it's -- because of the scale of the golf course, the crowd feels like they're a little bit more removed from some other U.S. Open venues, where you feel like there's a tight fairway, a bit of rough and then the crowd. Because it's such a big piece of property, it's definitely got that different feel. I think 18, the grandstands are very impressive down the last hole, and I think the scene there on Sunday is going to be amazing. So really looking forward to it. There's a good energy about people out there. They're very encouraging and supportive and are looking forward to seeing some golf.

Q. Obviously very, very different golf course, but is there a similar mental test between Merion and here, and Merion was tough, as well. Is there something you can draw upon to set your mind to that challenge?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. In Merion, my mindset was to try to stick as close to par as possible, being a USGA event or U.S. Open, anyway. There was talk earlier in the week at Merion about 10-, 12-under par being the winning score, and I kind of never bought into that. I kind of just stayed with my mindset of being patient and trying to churn out the pars and take your birdies when you can find them. But I think that's going to be very similar this week. I don't expect scoring to be extremely low, from what I've seen. I think there are going to be birdie chances out there. Like Merion, there's going to be some drivable par-4s if the tees change, there's going to be obviously some par 5s that you can reach. And there's going to be the occasional pin that's at the bottom of a feeder slope where you can take advantage. So I think there are going to be birdie opportunities. It's just about staying away from the big number. When I won the U.S. Open, I think I didn't make a double bogey the whole week. If you can do things like that and not give away cheap shots, or cheap bogeys, that's going to help come the end of the week.

Q. Two years ago, when you did win that first breakthrough major, when you reflect back on it now, how significant was it for you? It was actually this tournament, in particular, the U.S. Open?
JUSTIN ROSE: I was proud to win the tournament. It's a championship that's one of the most grueling tests that we do play, and to come out on top in a U.S. Open tells you a lot about yourself as a player and under pressure how you handle it. I was very, very pleased and proud to win this one. Since then I feel like it's been a successful couple of years. I feel like I've kicked on from winning my first major, sometimes it's difficult to live up to that. I feel like I've maintained my World Ranking, I've won tournaments, I've done all the right things. Again, Augusta was another sign this year. I came up against a great Jordan Spieth performance, but again it was a sign that my game was capable of winning these big championships. Yeah, it's been obviously a great experience since Merion.

Q. What would you say specifically about this event that makes it stand out from the other three majors in terms of a challenge to the players?
JUSTIN ROSE: I don't know in the USGA stand by the fact that they try for par, but it's kind of a well known theory anyway that level par is a pretty good score in the U.S. Open. And no other tournament really goes for that. Augusta is 10, 12, 14-under. The Open Championship is weather dependent. The PGA is 10, 14-under par. It does stand out from a mental test point of view and the toughness of the golf course I think is unique to this event. Would you want to play 20 of these a year? Probably not. But I think for the one tournament that it is -- it's very special and it's a test that I certainly relish.

Q. Just curious what's more useful to you this week, having won the U.S. Open a couple of years ago or your experiences in Open championships, not necessarily talking about the style of play, but what's more useful to you?
JUSTIN ROSE: I'm going to go with winning the U.S. Open, because my Open Championship record is not great.

Q. I didn't want to point out that.
JUSTIN ROSE: I'm going to focus on the positive there. I think the mentality is going to be the same in terms of having to grind out pars, having to be patient, having to handle the adversity that's going to happen out there in 72 holes of golf. So those are the types of things that I'm looking at trying to be good at this week. And as long as I play well that should manifest itself in a pretty good chance to win. Then it's all about coming down the stretch on Sunday. It's never easy, but if you've done it before, at least you have some positives on which to draw.

Q. You're part of a peculiarly dominant European era in this event. Can you point to any factors that may look to that continuing this week?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I don't think there's any great reason, other than there's been a lot more Europeans playing a lot more golf in the States in the last five, ten years. A lot of us are making the predominant -- our schedule is predominantly U.S. focused. And these tournaments are staged on such a huge scale that it can be quite overwhelming, I think, when you come to a lot of European Tour events to this. The week in, week out PGA Tour event definitely feels a lot closer to the -- from a crowd point of view and a staging point of view. The more comfortable you get playing in America I think helps you adjust to these tournaments a lot quicker, and I think that's the only real reason I can say that there's been such a strong showing in the last five, ten years ago or so.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JUSTIN ROSE: You can look to the links feel of the golf course to suit Europeans, but at the same time I think the Americans and international players have had a great record at the Open Championship. So I think we're all pretty well versed at playing different conditions all around the world. You might look at some of the Australian guys this week and think, especially if there is a slight breeze, it could almost play like a Melbourne, Sand Belt type course, where you have to play the bounce and have to control the ball flight and all those types of things. I think it is a long golf course, but the course is going to be running. There's definitely an advantage to the long hitter to take a couple of corners on. But there's a lot of trouble there a long hitter can get into by running through fairways. I feel this course is going to suit quite a lot of people.

Q. You've seen quite a bit of Jordan lately. Your thoughts on being paired with him here? It's almost like you're picking up where you left off in the final round of the Masters.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it's a great pairing. I enjoy playing with Jordan. I think in some ways I've got to learn his game pretty well. We were paired in Houston, the final rounds of Augusta, two rounds at the Memorial. Pretty fresh in my memory. I've played a lot with Jordan in the last six weeks or so, so it definitely makes for a comfortable are pairing. Obviously Jason Day is in there, too, he's a great guy and someone that I know very well. So two great young players. Yeah, it's going to be a fun three ball to be a part of.

Q. Firstly, thanks for coming in on a Wednesday and giving us something to write about. Also, you mentioned how your performance at the Masters was important to give you the belief that you could win these big championships. Does that imply that you thought after Merion perhaps you might not be able to do it again or am I reading too much into that?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, you're reading way too much into that. I think I felt that -- probably since 2010, I feel like I've been on a nice upward trend, getting the monkey off my back at the PGA Tour winning, and the next year winning a playoff event in the FedExCup, and the following year winning a World Golf Championship and the following year winning a major championship. I felt like the progression was really going nicely. The belief to go on and win more has been there. I feel like if I look at -- I'm 34. Let's say the next six to ten years are going to be more of my prime. I think from 30 to 40 I always felt was going to be the time where I was going to have to step up and win a major, to get that done relatively early in that time frame has been great. Let's call it six years, that's 20 plus, 24 majors that are going to come around. I feel like if I just keep doing what I'm doing, that's going to throw up quite a few opportunities. Of those opportunities you need to take advantage of as many as you can. So I feel like my game will create more and more chances. Having won one now gives you a little bit more confidence to get it done.

Q. There hasn't been a lot of talk about the Chambers Bay rough. What's your first impressions, and how does it compare to other Opens you've played?
JUSTIN ROSE: I've driven the ball very well in practice, so I haven't been in it that much. But not to say it won't be in play. I think fairway bunkers are as much in play as the rough, maybe more in play than the rough. So I feel like if you drive the ball well, you can definitely hit these fairways, they're relatively wide. On the 18th, I spent a little bit of time in the left rough today because there's the bunker -- with the tee being forward, the par-4 tee, there's a bunker that you need to avoid out there, about 320, 325, which sounds like a long way, but with the way the ball is rolling it's very much in play. The left rough is almost your miss. It's very brown, very wispy, very soft almost feeling. It's the kind of rough that you feel like you're going to get a big flier out of. I hit a couple of shots and it actually came out relatively shot, which surprised me. There are fescue areas, left of 8, for example. There's some terrible spots out there, for sure. It's just about learning which side of the hole. Typically there is a side of the hole on each hole which is a better miss than the other. So it's about managing your misses, I suppose, the best you can.

Q. I'm curious, you just talked about between 30 and 40 being your prime. How does life and golf change in perspective from your 30s to your 20s? Your 30s, you have a lot more to juggle and being married and having kids. How does that compare?
JUSTIN ROSE: It all happens at once. You're in the prime of your golfing career, and you're also in a sense in the prime of your life with young kids. Everyone tells you when you have kids how quick it goes and you blink and they're teenagers. You're trying to absorb as much as you can at home and make the most of your career. So it's definitely a fine line to balance at all. But it's very rewarding when you get the balance. If you've got it all in balance and synergy, that's when you get the best out of both parts of your life. To just be 100 percent committed dad and husband is obviously great, but I've wanted to be a golfer ever since I was five years old. So I want it all. I want to have all aspects kind of clicking. So that is probably my biggest challenge is really finding a way to work hard, practice hard, be present at home. And I think that is the key, when I am at home being 100 percent engaged and when I'm practicing, being 100 percent into it. Just really managing my time as best I can.

Q. Which hole will you be most relieved at to walk away with par?
JUSTIN ROSE: Potentially 18 on Sunday (laughter). I would say there's a couple of dangerous holes out there. The stretch of 4, 5, 6, 7, that's definitely a stout run of holes. I'd probably say No. 7. That's the one hole in practice that if you get the ball running short of the green into that bunker, especially short right, that bunker shot is certainly no -- nothing to look forward to. I'll tell you, if you get through 7, you're picking up more than half a shot on the field every day. I think that will be the hardest hole in my opinion.

Q. Some people say that links golf can be a bit of an equalizer in a tournament. But in this case with all the elevation changes, do you feel that it favors players that are in better physical condition as the week goes along, at all?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, 100 percent. I think there's a big fitness element this week. There are a lot of us who have been here and probably preparing harder for this championship than many others. Because of that there's an even bigger physical demand. One of my keys this week was to practice hard Friday, Saturday, Sunday, but conserve energy Monday and Tuesday. At the end of the day, you want to be 100 percent prepared Thursday morning, but you need to have your best stuff on the weekend. So it's sort of a double-edged sword. You can put so much time and energy into preparation that you kind of burn yourself out a little bit. It's trying to walk that fine line.

Q. Cole Hammer is 15 years old, he's playing in his first U.S. Open. You played in your first British Open at 17. When you see someone that young, does it remind you a little bit of yourself?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I mean obviously 15 -- when you're talking about kids that young, I think there's a huge difference between 15 and 17. 15 is incredibly young. I remember getting to the final stage of Open Championship qualifying when I was 14, and that felt like I was changing the world. It's better to actually be playing in -- the U.S. Open at 15 is incredible. I actually listened to his press conference and he seems very level headed. From what I took from it, his goal is to enjoy the experience. That's all I would urge someone that young to do is just to go out there and absorb everything and enjoy it and no expectations. I think at that age it's about just experiencing things and learning and taking it from there, really not putting any pressure on yourself. And I think just to follow up, I think that's why I did do so well at the Open Championship at Birkdale in '98, I realized people didn't expect anything from me. Even when I got in contention, I knew people expected me to go out and shoot 80 or blow up or whatever. So I went out and free wheeled on the weekend knowing that I had nothing to lose. It's a good mentality to have.

Q. When you're in the final group Sunday, what is the hardest part about that wait from the minute you wake up until 3:00 or whenever you tee off?
JUSTIN ROSE: It's conserving energy really, because you're burning nervous energy. Even though you might sleep until -- well, might be tough to sleep past 7:00, 8:00. Typically the kids get up at 6:30, 7:00, so my body clock is 6:30, 7:00 is when I wake up. I remember at Merion, though, Kate and I were having late dinners. We were purposely going to bed around midnight and we were sleeping to roughly 9:00. That was a huge help for me, those extra couple of hours in the morning. Then we would go grab coffee, go to Starbucks, then I'd come back, and work out. I'd do everything a bit slower than usual. If it was 30 minutes to go get coffee, we made it 45 minutes, and just sort of run down the clock a bit before you have to start thinking about the round. And I think that I remember doing that very well at Merion and that would be sort of a similar goal this week.

Q. One player told me he actually had to train himself to eat slower and walk slower. Is that part of what you're talking about, too, that everything potentially becomes a little quicker on --
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think it's all about tendency. If you think about the golf swing, you make decisions quickly under pressure. From the moment you wake up, if you're starting to slow things down, I think you're just in a sense training yourself to keep your rhythm. You might think you're doing it slowly, but it might actually be the same rhythm you were going on Thursday. So I definitely think that's probably a pretty good mindset to have.

Q. How unique of a challenge is the 12th hole with the fact that it's drivable? Do you potentially see that as something that could swing the tournament, with the eagle in play?
JUSTIN ROSE: It's a drivable par-4, but it's not an extremely severe green. To be honest, it's a bit of a bowl. It's not severe in terms of some of the other holes, kick the ball away and funnel off potentially 30, 40 yards. I actually think that 12 will probably play one of the easier holes on the golf course, probably the easiest. Depending where they put the pins, you're going to see in eagles, if it there's a back left pin. You're definitely going to see some excitement on that hole. But I don't think that you're going to see tons of double bogeys, as well as eagles. I think it's going to be a 4-3 hole, mainly, a couple of bogeys, and the odd eagle. It's going to be a fun hole.

Q. Just curious after you won at Merion what was the most difficult challenge or thing for you to get back to winning again and maybe what sort of kind of got you past the post-major win haze or whatever you want to call it?
JUSTIN ROSE: Just trying to think, I guess it took me to the Quicken Loans, Tiger's tournament, to win again. So just over a year, over 12 months. It is definitely an adjustment period, for sure. Expectations, your own expectations, other people's expectations of you, time management, maybe a few more things coming around on your plate, which are obviously great opportunities but they can potentially take you away from your old routines that have worked so well to get you to become a major champion. So just sort of refocusing on what's important and what your priorities are and what it takes to play good golf. You can get a little distracted from that for a few months. But if you get distracted for a few months sometimes it takes a few months to get over those few months and it can drag on little bit. That's why I was pretty happy with where I sit today based upon having won a major two years ago. I feel like it's been a pretty smooth journey, and I don't feel there's been too much of a drop off at all.

Q. Are you surprised at all that you haven't won a major since then or has it been frustrating in any way?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, I'm not surprised that I haven't won a major since then. There are many great players that have never won a major that deserve to win a major. They're hard to win and sometimes this game, it can allude you pretty easily. Certainly I'm very grateful for the one I have, and I believe there are going to be more opportunities to win more, you've got to be patient with it. I feel like the performance I put in in Augusta would have won many of those championships and I got beat by a better player on the week. But you've got to play your own game and create your own chances. I've played pretty well in the majors since. I think I saw a stat today that in the last ten majors, I'm fourth in scoring, and the last four majors I'm fourth in under par. I'm doing all the right things, it's just a matter of everything lining up again in one week.

Q. You mentioned the importance of avoiding double bogeys here. Is there a horror story out there lying in wait for somebody, is it that sort of course?
JUSTIN ROSE: You know, you might see a little bit of tennis going on, a couple of greens (indicating). Potentially the bunker on 7, if you get down in the bunker, if you don't get it up again, it could end up in your footprint, as it did to me yesterday in a practice round. That's a potential hole where you want to at least be aware of what can happen. So if you are down in that bunker, you do your best to hit a safe bunker shot. But it's a 30, 40-yard bunker shot up a hill. It's pretty hard to get it up again. There are holes where you're going to see some stuff like that. No. 8, maybe. Guys hitting it left off the tee, could be all sorts of stuff going on there. Just trying to keep my eyes down the middle of the fairway as best I can.

BETH MAJOR: Justin, always a pleasure. Thanks for visiting us today. We wish you well throughout the week.

JUSTIN ROSE: Thank you.
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