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July 14, 2015

Justin Rose


THE MODERATOR: Very pleased to welcome Justin Rose to the interview room. Justin, you're the highest-ranked British player in the field this week. What would it mean to you to win The Open and become champion golfer of the year?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it would mean the world. It would be a realisation of a lot of childhood dreams and hard work, and obviously growing up, this is the one tournament that I dreamed of winning. Obviously major championships, you'll take any of them. You don't get picky. They're hard to win. But if you were to get picky, this would be the one for me.

Q. Can you just give us a bit more detail about these childhood dreams, what you envisaged in your mind as a kid, please?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I was lucky enough to play golf from a very early age, probably been on the golf course since I was five years of age, and sort of in a structured way probably from the age of five. My dad used to encourage me to get out there and play and set hill targets and goals and keep me interested, whether it be a Mars bar on the way home or a train set at the end of the year or whatever, but just kept it fun for me. I felt like I picked up the game quickly, and as a kid -- everything is easy when you're a kid, or the perception of it is, anyway. I had a lot of confidence in myself and belief that I was going to go on and be a professional golfer. Used to pose my followthrough in the garden in the reflection of the window and pretend it was the front cover of a magazine. So I kind of had that in my mind always about where I wanted to go with it, Ryder Cups and major championships, and in the quiet moments where you'd spend hour after hour on the putting green at your home club, this one for The Open, this one to win the Ryder Cup, this one for that. So yeah, always had the dream in my head, really, and it's nice to be here as, like you said, the top-ranked British player and someone with a legitimate chance to go on and win it. It's nice to have sort of made the most of those dreams.

Q. If you win, do you treat yourself to a Mars bar?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah (laughing), absolutely, sure. That'll taste extra specially sweet, I'm sure.

Q. After your initial success in this tournament, have you put a finger on what's going wrong with this, all these years? Have you put a finger on what's happening?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, I haven't put a finger on it. You know, I can play links golf. I know that for sure. I won the Scottish Open around a very linksey golf course in those windy conditions last year. I've been close in a couple of Opens. My record may not suggest that but there's been a couple where I felt like I had a great chance to win if a few things had gone my way or if I just got a bit of momentum. But I felt like my game and the way I played the golf course was -- I've given myself chances, particularly Turnberry and even as far back as Muirfield in 2002. But yeah, I've had less chances than I would have liked, of course. My Open record isn't great. Looking at righting that the next five or six years.

Q. We saw last year the weather practically eliminated half the field on Thursday and Friday, even though you struggled pretty well from the bad side of the draw. This year it looks like maybe Friday you'll get the benefit of it if it turns really windy in the afternoon, but I wanted to get your thoughts on a tournament like this where it's something the players can't control has such a gigantic impact.
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, you just made my day, because the way it looks like, I think I got the wrong end of the draw again, I heard, but maybe there's some hope for me still. Yeah, definitely, the draw is a funny thing, especially at an Open Championship. It can make things lopsided, especially on golf courses where you've got out and back in. If the wind switches at a certain time you can play a course into the wind all day versus the guys who played it downwind the whole day. There's definitely -- you just hope over the course of a career that that evens itself out. But I'd say the last five years I've been on the wrong side of things, but I was looking forward to maybe lady luck turning and going my way this year, so we'll see. But hopefully you're right.

Q. You talked about your childhood dreams. Given how you're playing at the moment, how confident are you going into this championship that you can turn those childhood dreams into reality here this week?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I mean, I believe I can win any week that I play. My game is good. It's in good shape. It's just a matter of accessing it, really. You know, to access your best is preparation, is doing all the right things, and I'm doing all of that. So now it's just a matter of momentum and a bit of confidence to go my way, and that happens during the tournament. It happens sometimes unexpectedly or out of the blue, so yeah, just I feel like I've given myself a great chance with how I feel. I've got a bit of hard work to do I would say on the chipping and putting the next couple of days, but again, that's the spark of confidence I'm looking for.

Q. What do you know about the Old Course now that perhaps you wish you'd known your first couple spins around here?
JUSTIN ROSE: To be honest, I played the Old Course always pretty well. I won the St. Andrews Links Trophy around here which is a very prestigious amateur tournament. I've done well in the Dunhill Links, and The Open Championship, yeah, I think I missed the cut here maybe on the number, but again, had the wrong side of the draw. I don't feel like there's anything I don't know about the golf course or anything I need to work out. I think I play it pretty well.

Q. Anything you've learned over the years?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, you need to learn it -- the course changes so much with different wind directions. The more goes around here you have, you get a better idea of where the better angles are, where the better lay-ups are with certain winds and the pin placements can change so much when you've greens that are 60- to 100-yards wide or long, that your game plan can change to different pin placements. Just the more you go around, you do get to know those little nuances, but for the most part you know how to play a hole. But today, for example, the wind in off the left on No. 13, I chose to go down the left side, whereas in my practice rounds last Monday and Tuesday, I was hitting down the right side because the wind was down off the right. My strategy changed completely with different wind directions.

Q. A lot of players have talked about the importance of lag putting on this course. Do you ever get fired up about a really good lag putt you just hit, or do they all just feel like misses?
JUSTIN ROSE: I wouldn't say fired up, I'd say relief, just not to have another four-footer. Sometimes it's nice just to walk in, switch your mind off for a minute or two before you get to the next tee and just tap in. Over the course of a tournament, if you're not putting yourself under that extra pressure, putt in, putt out, that could make a difference, but I wouldn't say you're fired up, you're more just relieved.

Q. You've spoken about being the highest-ranked British player this week. Is that a responsibility you think you'll enjoy and perhaps bring the best out of you? Do you sense that the home fans would love to see a British winner?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think the home fans would certainly love to see that. I think I've been in this situation a number of times, so it's not new on me. Probably have to do a better job of taking on that feeling of getting the crowd behind me or using their energy in a better way potentially, or maybe that just comes down to getting off to a good start, and then all of a sudden people are behind you. So that could be the difference.

Q. Last year you won the Scottish Open. This year it didn't work out quite so well for you. Can you explain the difference in how you feel this year to 12 months ago, if there is a difference?
JUSTIN ROSE: In a weird way, I'm happy about it. I've come into a lot of major championships -- well, a few major championships very hot with my game, and it hasn't really produced a chance to win in the subsequent major. Being a little less hyped potentially, I think that's a good thing. I actually learned a lot at the Scottish Open last week on the weekend. My scores were terrible, but I actually didn't play that badly so there was nothing for me to worry about. I think I identified a couple of things that I've been doing wrong with my putting, which is good, because I can rectify that very quickly. I know what the cause and effect is and it's easily fixed. Right now -- it was just a really good learning couple of days, getting a lot of good data in and also just getting a feel for playing in a heavy wind, and I think it is going to blow here on Thursday and Friday, so just really beginning to understand when the wind gets to a certain speed how much you have to keep the ball down and when you can no longer hold the ball into the wind. So I really picked up some interesting and good feel last week on the weekend, although as a result in the tournament, it was unproductive, it was great for sort of teaching me what I needed to do coming into this week.

Q. You've had a couple instances this year unfortunately where you've hit a spectator. What is it like when you get up to the person and you see that they're bleeding? What goes through your mind? And have you ever had an instance where that shook you up so much it maybe affected your play afterwards?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it always shakes you up. I mean, I think The Memorial was -- I hit the ball and it just disappeared into the crowd. It's amazing how many times the ball goes into the crowd and people don't actually get hurt, which I'm very thankful for that. But when I got up there, you realised there was somebody on the ground, and that's obviously a bad start. I think at The Memorial there was no blood, and again, that makes you feel a little bit better. The Scottish Open one was way worse because you couldn't really see the crowd down the left, but as I saw, we were all sort of signaling that the ball was going left, so my eye was in that direction, and then I saw the ball jump up high. Obviously for that to happen, it needed to hit something hard, and it leads you to believe -- you know you've probably hit somebody on the head, and I had a sick feeling walking all the way up there, and I got up there and it was an elderly gentleman, which makes you feel even worse. But he took it really well. The good thing, he was very conscious, he was very sort of lucid and we were having a conversation. The medics were on hand and they were brilliant to be honest with you, and that kind of reassures you. I got in touch with him that evening, gave him a call and just checked up on him to see he was doing okay, and he was home with his wife and resting and doing okay, and that reassured me, really. But yeah, it's tough. Something that happens regularly out on Tour, I suppose, and it doesn't get any easier really. But it's been rare for me. I haven't really hit many people. I haven't had that happen to me a lot to be honest with you, and two in a couple weeks, it's been a shame. But from a golfing point of view, yeah, you have -- it shakes you up and then you've got to try and remind yourself that you're there to do a job and to keep concentrating. Yeah, just makes the job harder, but you have to do it.

Q. You and Rickie are two guys who are among the favourites this week and you're playing with a Hall of Famer who's saying goodbye to The Open Championship. How do you keep that from being a distraction, the sort of parade around the course where everybody is sort of wishing him well? How do you keep that from affecting your play and staying in the moment?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think it's quite easy if you think about yourself as a contender. There's a lot to focus on. Nick would have not expected anyone he was playing with -- Nick in his heyday was very focused, and he won't be expecting me or Rickie to be anything but that for ourselves. I'm sure when we get to 18 on Friday, hopefully we don't have the ceremonial picture. Hopefully Nick has played great and he's playing on the weekend, but if that's not the case, then it would be great to be part of one of those iconic photographs. I'm honoured to have the opportunity to play with Sir Nick in what could be his final -- is it his final, final Open? It's his final one at St. Andrews, I know that, but I wasn't sure of the exact story. It's a huge honour to play with him. He's the role model. He's the benchmark really for all British players in The Open Championship and beyond. Six major championships, he is by far and away been the most successful player. To have the opportunity to play with him, I'm really looking forward to it.

Q. Is it a surprise to you that it's been so long since an Englishman won The Open? In the years since Faldo, we've seen Irish players win it, Scottish players win it, but no Englishman. Do you have any theories on that?
JUSTIN ROSE: I don't have any theories on that, and it should be the other way around if you look at the World Rankings and what have you because we've definitely had some strong contenders and world No. 1s and stuff like that. I really don't know. No theory. Hopefully it's about to turn.

Q. What's the longest putt you've had here, and if you can't immediately summon up something like that, can you tell us the most unusual shot you've had to play here?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, the longest putt is potentially always going to be on No. 5. Downwind, that par-5, it's very hard to run it up the very severe gully in front of that green, so you typically try to land the ball on the green, and if any pin is at the front you're not going to stop the ball, especially when it's firm, more than 100 feet from that pin. So I would say it's going to be No. 5 is where you're going to see a lot of long putts. The greens being soft this year, you might only see them 80 or 70 feet past the pin. I can't recall a putt. I haven't really had a putt that I've made or memorable putt from long distance. I'm kind of trying to make some memories this week I guess because nothing is standing out.

Q. Nor a shot?
JUSTIN ROSE: Not really. I think I've hit a great 5-iron into 17 at the Dunhill Links before to that iconic pin placement, and any time you get the ball on the green but somewhat near the pin, you've really taken on an aggressive shot there. That's just a fun shot. That's one of those shots on this golf course that gets your heart rate one or two beats higher than usual, just because of the situation, because of the severity of the shot.

Q. Did you hole the birdie putt?
JUSTIN ROSE: I don't know. I honestly -- I think one of the great things is that I forget most of the things that happen in my golf game, which is probably why I survive missing 21 cuts, sort of selective memory. I should probably remember more of the good stuff, but I clearly don't. I'm in the moment.

Q. Is it a case where -- you've just been talking about the putting, the long putts. Is it a case that you would be reasonably happy to be with your approach within 30 feet? Do you have that as your sort of --

Q. And then rely on your lag putting from there?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think so. I think 30 feet here is the make zone. That's where you want to try and hole putts from because sometimes if it gets windy or when the green are firm, which is maybe not the case this week, but 30 feet is still a good golf shot. They're going to tuck pins. There's going to be pins you don't want to miss and bunkers and stuff like that, so you're going to play away a little bit, and 20 to 30 feet, you want to make a couple of those a round to really kick-start your momentum. That's why I think Jordan is dangerous this week because that's where he putts really well from, that range. But most of the putts are relatively straight, too. So coming in here that's what I've been working on practising, 20, 30 feet, not much break, and a lot of that is just obviously putting a good stroke on it. But the lag putting would be sort of 50, 60 feet because you're going to have quite a few of those, too.

Q. In normal tournaments you'd not be too happy if you weren't firing it into --
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, because 30 feet is the middle of the green typically whereas 30 feet from the pin here can be like in the quadrant where the pin is, so you've got 200 feet to your right. Sometimes you hit it to 30 feet here and it looks like you've hit it pretty close, and sometimes you think you've stiffed it to the pin when you're eight, nine feet away, where other golf courses it's three feet. The scale of everything is definitely very different here.

Q. So it's that 30-foot dust bin lid?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, but the problem here is you need to focus on the pin. It's very easy to get caught up in what you think is a good shot and it's 10 feet with a 60-degree wedge, whereas other courses four feet would be a good shot. But relatively it looks like the same shot, but you've kind of got to be very precise with your targeting.

Q. Just going back to the childhood dreams theme of a little bit earlier on, I understand a little bit later you're going to be getting the Golf Foundation Spirit of Golf Award. I just want to know what it means to you to receive that award and how important is the Golf Foundation in inspiring other golfers to achieve their childhood dreams?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I have a lot of great memories of playing golf under the Golf Foundation tournaments at Patshull Park and what have you and I think by winning it one time I spent a week at Wentworth actually at Bernard Gallagher's house and actually had some sort of tutelage from him. One thing I do remember, John Hopkins, is one thing Berard Gallagher told me is the importance of practising your short game, short game, short game. He really believed that was the key to making it to th top of the game and that's something that's stuck with me as a young up-and-coming player, spent a lot of time doing that. And obviously their mission is to get more and more kids involved in the game, obviously because it's a great game but not just because of the sporting element, because of what it teaches you, and some of the skills you can apply to your life, really. I guess their goal is to obviously introduce the game to more and more kids and try and translate that into more and more golf memberships and help grow the game, and I think they're doing a good job. I think England especially, UK potentially, I'm not sure of the exact stat, has the most participation amongst all countries for young kids. They're obviously being very successful, and it's a huge honour to be among the illustrious players before me who have received it. So good, very excited.

Q. Thankfully the spectator you did hit last week was more upset about being called elderly in the papers than anything else, but do enough professionals shout fore these days or are they relying too much on sticking a hand out and hoping everybody sees it?
JUSTIN ROSE: It's important to shout fore, it absolutely is. I think I try to shout fore any time it's heading towards someone. It's the way it should be. Does it happen enough on Tour? I think so. I feel like everybody shouts. Sometimes if the guy doesn't somehow -- you can be very much into feeling and looking at your golf shot, but typically someone in the group will shout fore, the caddie or even another player, and I don't think there's any harm in that. But yeah, sometimes, yeah, sure, there isn't a shout, and then when someone does get hit -- I think on my occasion maybe there wasn't a shout. I think I hit four shots left the previous four holes and shouted fore every time, but the problem was you couldn't see where the gallery rope was and the wind was off the left and felt like it was going to come down inside the gallery, but it didn't, so that was the one really hard thing to take, but absolutely you should shout fore.

Q. You've won tournaments where par has been the score to finish on. You've won tournaments where 22-under has been what you need to shoot. This week is the weather going to define which of those we see, or as the course is supposedly quite soft is it going to be a birdie-fest?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think the weather is going to play the bigger part in the winning score. Obviously there's been some low winning totals around here at St. Andrews, but very rarely does anyone go crazy. We've seen 63s, but typically, I was looking at Tiger's scores, I think he shot a couple of mid-to-high 60s in the first couple rounds and then finished with 70, 71. This course definitely knows how to hold its own and still show its teeth, and I think the guys setting the pins are going to do a good job of trying to get the best player to win on the week, and that's going to be -- whoever wins this week is going to have to hit quality shots, and I think that's the most important thing is just who hits the most quality shots. Down the stretch on this golf course if the wind is blowing from the east, which I think where it's blowing from right now and where it's forecast to blow, you're going to have to play well down the stretch, because typically the back nine is going to be in off the left. So it's going to be testing.

Q. Being as the case may be with the wind, do you feel you and the guys who played last week will have an advantage over those coming in this week, specifically Jordan who's got a lot of pressure on him anyway?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think for sure it's a big adjustment playing in very hot, humid conditions with potentially no wind and playing very soft because I think they had a lot of rain there, to playing this style of golf. Players are just so much quicker it seems these days. We travel so much more than players maybe 20, 30 years ago that the adjustment period is maybe a matter of days now and not weeks in a sense. You know, I think by Thursday, I think Jordan is going to improve and learn every day, and it's not just for Thursday. You've got to be fresh and ready for Sunday, and I think players can hang in and do pretty well Thursday and Friday and find their rhythm and finish strong by the weekend. But yeah, it's an advantage. I feel it's an advantage to play the Scottish Open. That's why I put it on my schedule. Like I said, I didn't play well, but I learned a lot, and I think that was the whole reason. You don't know ever exactly what conditions are going to -- what you're going to face, but I think on the weekend I learned how to play again in a very heavy wind. There were certain shots that I was playing on Saturday that were just the wrong shot, and then by Sunday I made that adjustment and actually hit a couple really nice shots, and if that helps me Thursday and Friday, if there's some wind and I save one shot, then it's worth it.

THE MODERATOR: Justin, thank you very much, and best of luck this week. Thank you.
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