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July 29, 2015

Justin Rose


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Justin Rose into the Interview Room, our defending champion here at the Quicken Loans National. Justin, welcome back. New golf course this week. Talk a little bit about trying to defend.

JUSTIN ROSE: Absolutely. So excited to be here. Good memories of the area. Like you say, different golf course so I feel like you're half defending champion. Actually I haven't seen the course yet. Obviously coming off a Transatlantic flight, it's going to be important for me how hot it is today, to conserve energy for the week. The course looks great. I hear good reports on it and looking forward to playing today.

JOHN BUSH: Before we open it up to questions, talk a little bit about your season up to this point. You won at the Zurich, your 6th straight year with a win on the PGA TOUR. Comment on your year as a whole.

JUSTIN ROSE: It was a slow start to the year and found some form. I think Augusta turned it around. That was really my first decent performance and that gave me a lot confidence really to go and compete in a Major Champion off the back of not a lot of confidence and the fact I felt so comfortable down the stretch there at Augusta, you know, taught me a lot about myself and kept that confidence growing and then I sort of took that confidence and built on it even more at the Zurich Classic and finished with a couple birdies there to put that one away, which was nice. Yeah, like you say, it's been in my mind. I've won every year and at the beginning of the year that looked like a long way off. It was nice to find that form just after spring and then that's sort of been a nice sort of builder through the summer. I played some good golf. Memorial had a chance to win there. Could have, should have. Then the Open Championship, had an outside chance there starting the final round -9, which was obviously a score that Zach Johnson and Marc Leishman started on. Couldn't get hot on Sunday. But feeling good about things. Obviously there's a big run of golf coming up now and excited.

Q. When you won here last year, you were 4-under par and everybody said it played, Congressional played tougher than did it for the U.S. Open in 2011. I guess you haven't seen the course much but what are you thinking you'll need to be to win this year? I would think more than 4-under or better than 4-under.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah. I would guess better than 4-under par. You know, Congressional got very firm on the weekend. I think the scoring was actually relatively good Thursday, Friday at Congressional and then, you know, really everybody really struggled on the weekend when it got firm and the course showed its teeth and I think certainly Congressional got its reputation back after the U.S. Open. This week, I think we're expecting a tough golf course. Good ball-striking test this week. You need to hit it in the fairway off the tee. The roughs are fairly thick, I believe. Then it looks like good iron play. The greens are sort of in sections, sort of bowls and if you hit good iron shots you're going to have a lot of birdie putts and if you hit poor iron shots you're going to have a lot of tough two putts up and over ridges. I think we're thinking 10 to 14-under par, which I think is a sign of a tough golf course especially if it's soft.

Q. Would you be here if you weren't defending, because lot of guys are taking the week off because it leads right into the Bridgestone and the PGA, three straight weeks?
JUSTIN ROSE: It's a condensed schedule right now. You're trying to think about your rhythms and when you play well and what times of year you play well and when you've got to capitalize. I feel relatively fresh still at this point of the season. You know, I think whether you take an extra week off in the next 12 weeks it's not going to make a huge difference. Just going to be busy anyway. I think that you just need to do a good job of when you're at home or when you're at tournaments doing the best to conserve energy over the next sort of two to three months. Yeah, I think I would be here. It's one of my favorite tournaments on Tour. Got a couple of the best looking trophies on Tour (laughter). It's about winning tournaments and playing places where you can -- you feel you can win.

Q. Justin, you talk about staying fresh and staying energized at this point in the season. Is that something you learned with the shoulder injury? I remember you talked about it a couple years ago where you missed the beginning part of the season but then felt fresher later in the year. Is that something that was a byproduct of that?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think so. I think a lot of us we come off our off seasons after Christmas and New Year's and you sort of get into the West Coast and then you get into the Florida swing and before you know it Augusta is around and you know in some ways there's a lot of golf that's been played, lot of guys who have won tournaments, multiple winners probably by that time of the year and guys are 2, $3 million up on the winner's list and FedExCup points. If you haven't got off to a quick start you can feel you're way behind. I've learned the last couple seasons a great year on the PGA TOUR is built around five or six good weeks and you got to back yourself to have those good weeks and find your own rhythm and find your own flow and you never really know when it's going to happen. You got to keep your confidence up all year long and wait for your run.

Q. I know you played a practice round with Ollie Schniederjans at the British. What did you think of him and how he's had a couple good tournaments here?
JUSTIN ROSE: I followed his progress last week, first week as a pro and he was very close to having a great week. I think obviously he finished 20th-ish is a great first week out on Tour. He's got a lot of game. He's got a lot of fire power. Hits the ball a long way. Seems to be a great putter and, more importantly, he seems to have a great head on his shoulders. I've been to dinner with him. He's the same sort of management stable at XL. I got to know him. I think he's got a bright future.

Q. I cover golf in the Middle Atlantic United States. You've had some great success here, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. What are some of your memories of playing golf here in the Middle Atlantic?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think just typically some great golf courses in this area. If you drew sort of a couple hundred mile radius you've got some of the world's greatest golf courses in this area and very traditional in nature and I really enjoy that. Some of the greatest designers in the world have spent a lot of time in this area, too. Yeah, it's just been -- I think just a pure place to play from a purest point of view. Some great architecture and great golf courses.

Q. Justin, can I get your thoughts, the guy you had played with in the final round at the Masters, what comes to mind of what he's been able to do this year?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it's phenomenal. What Jordan has been able to do and how he's made it look, to me, obviously Augusta was incredible the way he played there and just the key putts he made when he needed to and the thing that strikes me about Jordan if he has a bad round you can put your house on it, he's coming back strong the next day. If he had a bad hole, he bounced back with a strong hole. He missed a putt, he made the putt the next green. He's very resilient right now. To me also played in the first couple rounds of the U.S. Open he would say he didn't really play that well and he had won the -- ended up winning the tournament. He's manages his game right now. What I see a player doing, it's very impressive. At the Open Championship to come within one shot of his 3rd straight Major kind of as good as we've seen for a long, long time from any player. It's pretty amazing. Obviously to do it so young. I mean when Tiger was doing it you thought there's no way we'll ever see this again in our lifetime. It was unprecedented to see a young player go out and win Majors and make it look so easy. Here we are 20 years later and the next generation is stepping up to those sorts of feats. It's pretty cool.

Q. Justin, there's been a pretty good uptick in your putting looking the statistics. Anything you can put your finger on?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think I've worked hard on my putting the last two, three years. Just a culmination of all that hard work, I suppose and, and a few more tools. Doing a little bit of sort of some of my own way of reading the greens and just trying to figure out what works for me and, you know, changed putters actually at The Open Championship and felt like I putted much better inside ten feet for sure, I felt like on the slightly slower greens, and also greens at the U.S. Open I changed to a putter with more of a groove system in it that puts a better roll on the ball. The slightly less pure surfaces that made a big difference at The Open. I feel like I know what -- I changed putters but within the framework of knowing what works for me. So, you know, kinds have a bit more of a blueprint. If I putted badly a couple years ago I probably changed putters and changed putting strokes or changed my grip, done something drastic. Now a bit more belief in what I'm doing.

Q. Half your wins have come in places where you have defended at the same course the following year. Sort of feel different than defending at a place you have -- you didn't win at the same course the year before?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. Defending doesn't mean much when you play a new golf course. You can take some confidence from the fact you played well this time of year and hopefully the biorhythms lineup more than the golf course. So, it's a new test. I need to learn it and yeah, I don't certainly put any pressure on myself this week. Being defending championship is a whole new test.

Q. Rory announced he's going to be out of the Bridgestone, reserving decision on the PGA. What is your gut feeling when we might see your Ryder Cup teammate again?
JUSTIN ROSE: I really haven't heard anything. I saw Conner at The Open Championship. He said he's doing okay, he's working at it and doing all the right things, doing his best to be back as quick as possible. I think we'll definitely see him for the FedExCup, start of that and hopefully the PGA. I think within those two weeks. I know obviously to miss the season's final Major would make the injury an even bigger blow to him. I'm sure he's doing everything he can to be back for the PGA but, conservatively, The Barclays.

Q. You mentioned earlier about the next generation. Do you feel them coming on strong and do you feel like they're -- are they like better equipped to, you know, like Jordan to win earlier than maybe you were?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think so. I think what struck home to me about the next generation were the amateur performances at The Open Championship and there were guys Ashley Chesters was a guy no one talked about all week and he finished 9-under par in The Open Championship and was unbelievable. There was so much competition for the silver medal that year it kind of went unnoticed. To have so many strong finishers finishes and so many guys challenging for just not the silver medal but for the tournament was unbelievable. That's a pretty good snapshot of what's coming and guys being able to handle it a lot better. I feel that when I did it in '98 it was out of the blue and it seemed like there was more tension on it because of that, whereas now it's happening more regularly. Doesn't seem so far out in left field. The guys are definitely more equipped for sure.

Q. I saw you yesterday over in the short game area working on 50, 60-yard pitch shots. Is there anything in particular you were working on and is that a part of your game that you're not happy with for some reason?
JUSTIN ROSE: I sort of evaluated my game from The Open Championship and obviously I look to who won it, Zach Johnson, tried to think what he did better than me and one of the reasons I struggled to make a charge on Sunday was I wasn't able to get it as close as I like to the pins with my wedges. St. Andrews played pretty short going out downwind. You need to be very active with your wedge play which is what Zach made a great career of. I highlighted some of the areas I wanted to improve and also working on my wedge play is a great way of working on my golf swing at a low level intensity, which is good for my body and stuff like that. Whenever I work only my wedge play I'm also working on my golf swing. Just a good time spent for me and it was in the shade (laughter.)

Q. Do you expect to need those shots this week or just a maintenance-type thing?
JUSTIN ROSE: Maintenance-type thing. I had my short game coach out here and we were talking about where we go from here and how we get better and I think also the soft fairways this week -- some of the things I was working on was basically controlling my strike and sometimes I feel like I can hit the wedges just a little heavy at times so it was a great way to practice and it's something I'm going to need this week, too, with soft fairways.

Q. Who is short game coach?

Q. You mentioned you're coming off vacation, you're also coming off the British. I'm curious how much were you thinking about that tournament during your vacation? You addressed -- was that something you've been thinking about as you often want to kind of think about as you get back on Tour here?
JUSTIN ROSE: It's always important to evaluate and learn from things and I think it's how you get better, really. Those are always important decisions you got the make, do you need to change something or do you need to tweak something or just need to polish something? I think those decisions are very important because if you decide you need to change something, it's the wrong decision, that can set you back. So, you know, the evaluation process is always important. I'm trying to get better as a player. When you've been out here 17 years it's not that drastic of improvements you can make so it's sort of -- it's about focusing on the right areas of your game and don't lose any sleep about it. No. I was pretty happy just to be on sort of vacation with my family. And, it's amazing, you always feel pretty rundown after the Major. For some reason it takes a lot more emotional energy than it does physical and I felt pretty rundown the middle of last week. Beginning to feel good again.

Q. Justin, we're close to a year out from the Olympics. I wanted to gauge your sort of interest level and your desire to be included in that and kind of what you think about golf being included and just sort of what you're thinking a year out?
JUSTIN ROSE: As a player I am embracing the fact that golf is included in the Olympics. It's a great opportunity for us. It's going to be an exciting event, going to be a great opportunity to be a part of something huge, to be the first golfer in a long time, anyway, to win a gold medal. It's going to have a lot going for it, obviously, and, who knows, in a hundred years' time that might be the most sought after achievement in golf. Right now it's all about history. So Major Championships have more of it than the Olympics does for us as a sport. When you look at the Olympics, it's about the best of the best: The fastest man on earth, the fastest woman in the pool. You kind of strive to these huge great athletic achievements. So I think it's going to be fantastic for golf and it's imperative all the top players support it because that's what it's all about. It's the best of the best going against one another. The top two guys from each country, if they turn out, then it's going to be a fantastic tournament.

Q. Just as a follow-up, you said you can't rank it up there with the Majors yet. Is there a way you can sort of place it in that priority list as to where it would rank for you on the victory scale, so to speak?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think you put it on its own. You put it as a special achievement, something incredible that happened in your career. You probably go through I won 50 tournaments and 5 Majors but I won a gold medal. Kind of separates itself from everything. It's very hard to put it in the 52 week calendar that we play. I think it's a very special event.

JOHN BUSH: Justin Rose. Thank you, sir.

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