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July 12, 2016

Justin Rose

Troon, South Ayrshire, Scotland

MIKE WOODCOCK: Good morning, everyone. We'll make a start to the press conference. I'd very much like to welcome the 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose into the interview room.

Justin, thank you for joining us this morning. Last year, you tied sixth in The Open at St. Andrews. I think that was your best finish since the hugely memorable year back in 1980 at Birkdale. That must give you some real confidence coming into this week at Royal Troon?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. Last year I would say it was a week where I had an opportunity to do well and put myself in position going into the final round that a great round of golf could have led me to the Claret Jug. I started the round under par, which was the same as Marc Leishman and Zach Johnson. We know those two guys were in the playoffs. That was an outside look at it.

There haven't been many, I would say in the last few years, but obviously my Open Championship form is something I've definitely been conscious about, and really doing my best to turn around, and I think last year was obviously a nice step in the right direction.

MIKE WOODCOCK: I'm sure, and feeling confident coming into this week here again at Troon?

JUSTIN ROSE: Absolutely. It's been a slow summer for me. Came off injury into the U.S. Open, and then Akron last week, just again, trying to find some form, really, I would say off the back of that. And anytime you have a bit of an injury thing, you're not able to practise quite as much, but I feel like I'm in a much better spot this week. I'm beginning -- I'm at the point where I'm focusing on my performance rather than just trying to get fit. So I feel like it's about the right time for me to start turning into a couple good results and I'm excited about it.

The only thing that that little bit of time off does give you is maybe a slightly fresher approach than some of the guys at this time of the year with the Open and PGA and Olympics and playoffs and all sorts of stuff coming up. I feel quite hungry and ready to go. So hopefully it will start this week.

Q. Justin, you mentioned before last year you were conscious of your Open record not being as good as you'd like. Was there anything you could put your finger on to why that was and why it hadn't quite happened for you?
JUSTIN ROSE: It's easy to blame a bad draw once in a while. That's what I put my finger on. But not really. I've had a few outside chances where I've felt like I've actually played much better than the result has turned out. So I've never been overly concerned by it. But obviously it's a tournament that I'd dearly love to win. So when you're not getting that many good opportunities, yes, you sometimes question a couple of things.

I would say maybe I've just altered my preparation slightly. The Open comes at a busy time of year. I played the Scottish Open prior to. I haven't played it this year. There's been a few changeups just in terms of trying to figure out what might be a great opportunity for me to do well this week. This week has been slightly different once again. Spent all this week up here at Troon. I felt that if I went back home, it's very easy to get caught up in seeing people and getting distracted and not spending as much time on your game as you need to with the week into a major. So I thought coming straight to Troon with a little less distraction was going to be a good plan for me and set me up well for the week.

So, yeah, just trying to find each time, each time the Open comes around, just really think about what's going to be the best way for me to perform.

Q. You mentioned the Olympics and what was coming up for you. Can you explain why you and Danny have decided to go when so many others have decided not to?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I've just been excited. I can't really explain from my point of view. I'm excited about it, treating it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's sort of been my tag line, I suppose. I hope that I'll be able to play in Tokyo. We hope that golf will be in Tokyo, but for the most part, I think that at this stage of my career it's something that comes around once every four years. I understand that it's been tough scheduling, and I understand all of that side of things, but when it's once every four years, I think it's something you can certainly make an exception for, and that's been my attitude towards it. Just being a part of Team GB, in a sense you feel like you're part of something bigger than just your individual sport as well.

So it's going to be a fun occasion, and I've never been to an Olympic games in any capacity. To go, obviously, as an athlete is a huge honour. But as part of the whole experience, I want to take in the games as a whole. So it's something that me and my family have been very excited about. Kate is a former gymnast. Although she's a sports acro gymnast, which is never Olympic recognized, although one day she hopes it would be. The Olympics was always a big deal in her field growing up, so we've been excited about it.

It's good to see Danny. I know Danny is in the stage of his life that he has young children. Who knows if more are on the cards or not. But I do sympathize with the guys who are at that phase of their lives where either their wives are pregnant or having children even in the future. It's been, yeah, it's been sort of a sad sort of situation to see those sorts of guys pulling out. It's obviously weakened the field. But you've got to respect their position. You do have to put your health and family first from that point of view.

Q. Is it a danger that you can start obsessing about the Open and the majors perhaps more than other tournaments?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think there's a danger, for sure. I think though that ultimately -- for me personally the majors are really what's going to move the needle in my career. If I win one more or two more or three more, that's going to be what defines my career. Do I single-handedly focus on the majors at the beginning of the year? Probably, but I also have other goals as well: To be a more, I would say, prolific winner; to be able to have a season where I win more than once or twice. That's a big goal of mine. But outside of that it is focusing on the major championships because I believe that's where history is at, and that's what's going to define you as a player.

So I always see the major championships as two-week spells, a week of preparation where you're really getting into it. That paid dividends for me at Merion. I feel like that separated me from a lot of the other guys that particular week. And that gave me the opportunity to win. So I think they are worth targeting and going after. It's only a danger if you can't handle that mentality and the pressure of what that represents.

Q. Golf has been getting a lot of stick because of guys pulling out of the Olympics. Do you think that's fair? What are your thoughts on the bad publicity for golf as a sport?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I mean the bad publicity is unfortunate, obviously. I think the Zika risk is going to be one of those things that we look back at and think it's a non-event hopefully. You're going to get down there and you're probably not going to see a mosquito in sight. But at the same time, no one can stand there and categorically tell you you're going to be okay, and that's the problem. Obviously with golf being an outdoor sport played around the water out there, 20, 30 miles out from the city, five, six hours out on the golf course, seven days a week, you are probably at a higher risk than most other athletes in most other sports who are in much more of a contained environment. So there is that to weigh up and factor in in the decision-making process.

Yeah, just, obviously I would say the golf is skipping Rio rather than skipping the Olympics. That's the way I'd like to frame it this particular time around. I just think it's unfortunate.

Q. Given your commitment to the Olympics, does the tough scheduling that you talked about give you any concerns about being a potential disadvantage that you will be spending the week there where others will not be?
JUSTIN ROSE: You know, I was quite excited about the way I set up my year. Like I said, having sort of four or five weeks out prior to the U.S. Open changed everything for me. I feel like I have tournaments to make up now, so I feel relatively fresh. But the way I tried to set things up was a week-on, week-off approach. So I would compete, rest, compete, rest, compete, rest, compete, rest. So even though that seems bitty if you look at it, I think over the course of a 12-week period it was actually going to provide a nice rhythm. Week-on, week-off is certainly not too much golf. So I was excited about the schedule in a way, and I was very confident that I'd be able to handle the workload, if you like.

Q. What kind of visualization techniques do you use as part of your pre-shot routine? And also curious have you ever tried closing your eyes the way Jason Day does?
JUSTIN ROSE: Obviously I'm very familiar with the way Jason works. I guy called Jason Goldsmith works with me, who used to work with Jason Day, and I do a lot of stuff with something called Focus Band, which is basically a way of measuring exactly what your brain is doing, if you're right brain or left brain, obviously with the right brain being more of the visual side. But I'm not someone who finds it very easy to visualize, necessarily. When I'm putting some place, talk about being able to burn in a line or white line or yellow line or whatever they see. I don't do it that way. I'm much more kinaesthetic. So everyone has their different modality in terms of how they learn best. Obviously my little boy Leo is not very auditory because he never listens.

But everybody's got their way of communicating and learning, and it's actually quite interesting once you realize that and understand that. Sometimes I'm joking, but it is kind of interesting to see how your kids learn best and how to show them things and how things resonate with them. So the visualization side is a part of it for me, because you do use all of them. But it's not the single most important thing for me. It's more kinaesthetic, how I feel something.

Q. You've shown great fortitude in your career in facing up to difficulties and so on. Is there anything you could say to us for Rory as he is facing some of the difficulties he's facing at the moment? Is there anything you can say that might encourage him that there is a light at the end of the tunnel? How do you feel about his situation?
JUSTIN ROSE: What situation?

Q. Well, he clearly isn't playing as well as he would like. I'm just worried about, are we being too hard?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think we're being too hard. There is a lot of competition out there. There are great players, Jason, Rory, Jordan, who else? A bunch of others. There are loads of good players now. Dustin Johnson, obviously with recent form. And everyone has their run. Dustin's had a couple of weeks in a row, Adam Scott had a couple of weeks in a row. Jordan's had a couple of good looks this year, but you could argue he hasn't been as consistent as last year.

But the metric of how we judge these players can be harsh at times, and I think Rory is a feel player in the sense that you can never count him out. If you start to criticize him at this point in the season, you could definitely end up with egg on your face, because he could go on a run that he could easily win three, four, five of the next six, seven events. So I just think he's not a player that you should worry about, really. He's talented and he'll be fine.

As a player, that question is from left field because I don't worry about him. I don't look at his form and say oh, what's going on with Rory? He popped off a win in Ireland, which was a tournament that meant so much to him and was obviously a big, big victory for him. So he's got it when he wants it, and that's all you need to see, really. So I'm not seeing a huge drop-off in form. He's just not at his best very, very best right now, but you can't be at your best all the time.

So the question kind of threw me because I didn't think there was an issue, necessarily.

Q. Two holes, the 8th, the postage stamp and the 11th, can you explain how hard or fun or difficult or horrible they are?
JUSTIN ROSE: All of the above, depending on the day, really. First time I played the postage stamp it was quite a nice day. It was just a little flick with the wedge onto the middle of the green. Not much to think about. But then when you get down to the green, you realize how narrow it is. You realize it's got a quite steep pitch left to right. And you realize if it falls off into that right-hand bunker, it's a really, really tough proposition to get out of there with a 4, potentially.

And then I was playing at that particular day and one of the local members that was walking around it mentioned that G Mac had hit 6-iron two days previous, and when you start thinking about it in that context, wow, a 6-iron into this green becomes a tiny target under those circumstances. So it's very much on the day. The 11th hole is very similar in the sense that depending on the wind conditions, if you played downwind, you have to be relatively aggressive down the train tracks. You've got to commit to the right side, because if you target left, which in your mind is safety, the left is just as bad as the right because the gorse pushes coming pretty quickly on the left.

So the 11th hole is very much committing to your line, given the wind direction and where you're going to run out in terms of distance. Just both holes that need 100% commitment. They're both incredibly difficult, yeah.

Q. Could you tell us, please, what was the nature of your injury earlier in the season and how it affected your game?
JUSTIN ROSE: I just think it was just a gradual onset of obviously a bad back. Some sort of disc issues, a herniated disc with a bit of all that type of stuff, which I think a lot of golfers face at some point in their career. Yeah, these things tend to rear their heads once in a while, and pretty much nothing you can do about it, to be honest with you. It's just one of those things.

So I think the fact that I was in a very good place fitness-wise prior to it helped me bounce back. For some people that would be a 12-week or 6-month injury, potentially. But I bounced back in three, four, five weeks. I don't think I could have been back a day sooner, so I worked incredibly hard to be back and fit and ready. Yeah, that's the nature of it. It's the nature of being a golfer, I suppose. It's the nature of getting a little bit older and having played a lot of golf through my career.

Q. Justin, you were part of an English Revolution group of players with yourself, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, David Howell who came through. Are you delighted to see a new generation following your footsteps with Tyrrell Hatton, and Paul Dunne, and these young British players who look like they can challenge the world?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's exciting. Danny Willett is the obvious one. He's been knocking on the door for a while. He's had that confidence about him. With Danny it took maybe four or five years to break through to the highest level. You could see what was happening with him in Europe. Last year contending with Rory at the Race to Dubai, and again winning early this season and winning his first major at the Masters is fantastic. It's great to see players have that progression. There are a bunch of them in the early stages of doing the same thing.

So, yeah, obviously Tyrrell's playing well, Andy Sullivan, Chris Wood, another great player who has been around a little bit of time now, but looks like he's heading into that phase of his career where he's beginning to put the experience into good effect and winning big events like the PGA. The Ryder Cup from that point of view looks strong. Matt Fitzpatrick as well is a wonderful talent.

Yeah, it's good to see. All of those players are capable of great things and all capable of winning a major championship at some point. Yeah, it's good. It's nice to see that there seems to be that flow of talent coming through.

Q. (No microphone).
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I don't know much about him. But he obviously has a fiery temperament, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. It just shows passion. It shows that you want it, but, yeah, if you can learn to control that, that's going to ultimately give you a much better opportunity to play your best golf. But in the early years, I think probably a lot of us have that temperament and it's just a matter of learning to control it. Probably Roger Federer would be the ultimate example of that.

Q. Did it inspire you when Lee Westwood, when they did something really good and you wanted to do the same?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think Westwood I felt was maybe a half generation older than me. But I always felt like I was with Paul Casey and Luke Donald and myself, those are kind of the guys. I was like maybe two, three years younger than them. I always felt like I had time on my side, as well. Depending on who I was comparing myself to. Comparison is probably not the right way to go about it. But certainly there is a sense of, if he can do it, I should be able to do it. So, yes, it can spur you on, for sure.

Q. You said the week before Merion you felt made the difference. The full week here, you've been here since last Tuesday. The wind has changed up a lot in the last week. Do you feel any extra confidence as you sit here just now for having that full week?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think so. Yeah, extra confidence, or I'd say right now I feel like it's a calmness. I'm prepared, I'm ready. I've seen the course, I would say, in both winds. I feel like I'm rounding into form. I feel like some of the thought processes that a player goes through, I feel like they're simplified or solidifying in my mind what's going to be my strategy going into the week, what's going to be my swing field, what I'm working on in my game, my short game, my putting. I feel like I have a clear handle on all of that.

So, yeah, the rest is going to be about, can you go out and do it? So, yeah, I feel ready and excited.

Q. Justin, regarding Rio, do you think there's probably been a bit of an overreaction from the top male golfers considering so many women are still keen to go there and play in the Olympics?
JUSTIN ROSE: If you were to compare it, then you'd say yes. If you just flat out are comparing one versus the other, because the circumstances are the same. But the only thing that potentially is the case and can be quite difficult for the ladies is sometimes -- if you're looking purely from a family planning point of view, unfortunately some of the ladies have to put that on hold while they're at the peak of their career, so that's the only correlation I could potentially or the only argument I have is maybe that's not on the cards in the very near future for some of the ladies playing. But who am I? I'm certainly not --

Q. Aside from that?
JUSTIN ROSE: That's the only theory I could come up with. But obviously I'm trying to protect the guys and trying to understand their point of view and their decision. So to not sort of add to the negative PR on the game, because I think we all need to protect that.

Q. You referred to runs earlier when you talked about Rory. It seems like Rory, Jason, Jordan and now most recently Dustin have kind of sustained these runs and passed the baton a little bit. Can you put your finger on as a player who has been on some good runs yourself, kind of the psychology of keeping that going and trying to strike while the iron's hot so to speak?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think there are a lot of factors into why a player plays well at certain times. Then you've got to look at just the stress on the system of playing well, being in contention, dealing with the pressure, dealing with the extra media. Dealing with, yeah, just the extra pulls on your time that come with doing well over a period of time. That's why it difficult to sustain it for a 10-to-12-week period of time. That's why you see guys go for runs a couple weeks, three weeks. Just mentally and physically, you only have one source of energy, and if it gets depleted on other levels through, like I said, the mental side, physical side, emotional side, it's difficult to keep it going for a long period of time. I think that's why you see typically runs be three, four weeks at a time. Maybe you drop back into finishing 10, 12, 14, and then hit it with another run.

But I think that's kind of a natural cycle to things, and that's why I think scheduling is kind of important. And maybe Tiger, for example, was able to win more regularly because he played less and he was able to recover and come back and do it again. He was able to keep that very high level.

MIKE WOODCOCK: Justin, thank you for joining us. Best of luck this week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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