|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
July 13, 2016
Troon, South Ayrshire, Scotland
LAURA MEECH: Good morning, everyone. Just like to welcome you to the Team GB golf announcement. There are copies of the press release down in the front, if you haven't received it yet. And I'd like to hand it over to Jamie Spence for opening remarks.
JAMIE SPENCE: Well, that was quick. Thank you, Laura. Thanks, everybody for turning up today, so early after your big dinner last night as well. Very impressed. I'd also like to thank the R&A for hosting us here, Mike Woodcock and his team, and obviously Royal Troon Golf Club, being here at such a prestigious event is always a pleasure; and the British Golf Association for all their support in all this at Team GB.
Also a few personal thanks, Tania Rivett helped me voluntarily with the kits, which we're still working on, aren't we, Justin? Vicki Richards, a long-time friend of mine she's helped me with all administration, which has been extensive as well. And a big thanks to Nigel Tilley, who is going to be the team physio in Rio. He's been talking the fellows through the process where they've got to register every day, and he's going to be the team physio on site. So Nigel is an invaluable member of the team.
I won't speak too long, but I want to say what an honour it is to be the team leader for golf. I'm also so excited and so proud that the four players that have qualified have done so because all through this process they've really shown a desire to be in Rio and to be part of the Olympics. They really get it, and I'm just so pleased. Especially for Justin sitting next to me. It's a shame that Charley and Catriona couldn't make it. It's their only week off in about eight weeks. So Catriona's at home being a mom for a few days and Charley's working on his game. And unfortunately, Danny's schedule doesn't allow him to be here this morning. Obviously he's got lots of media commitments, as does Justin. But we're delighted Justin could be here.
I'm going to hand you over now to Mike Hay, who has been a rock through all of this with me. Mike is an Olympic gold medal coach, as well as being a good 5-handicap golfer. So I'll throw you over to Mike.
MIKE HAY: Thanks, Jimmy. Good morning, everybody. On behalf of the British Olympic Association, we're delighted to welcome golf back to the Rio Olympic Games after just over 100 years of absence. I know the four golfers who are going to represent Great Britain are excited about the prospect of playing in Rio itself, and playing for team GB. And Justin, Danny, Charley, and Catriona, we have a hugely talented and experienced team who all have the capability, we believe, of winning and challenging for medals in Rio itself.
With the addition of the four golfers today, it brings Team GB's number of announced athletes to 250. Within the next week we'll be qualifying track & field or rather announcing track & field and rugby 7, so the two last teams to make up Team GB before we head to the games. We are planning or projecting a team of around 350, 360 athletes going to Rio. That will represent the biggest team we've taken to an away games in quarter of a century.
Overall, we're confident that we're going to have a very talented team to take to Rio. It will be athletes across 23 of the 28 sports that will be represented in Rio, and we feel that we're capable of returning our best away Olympic games ever. Thank you.
LAURA MEECH: Thanks, Mike. Justin, congratulations. You've always been an advocate of the Olympics or golf being in the Olympics. Why is that and what are you most looking forward to about going to Rio?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, yeah, I think obviously touching on a couple of things Mike said there. Obviously the history of the Games, when you're talking about a quarter of a century worth or obviously more, in terms of how long it's been going on and how many great athletes have been before us and represented Team GB, that obviously makes an honour. And being part of a group bigger than your own individual sport, I suppose. Being part of Team GB, like you said which is going to be about 350 athletes, is something to behold and something to be proud of and something that I've sort of wanted to take onboard.
I remember the 2012 Ryder Cup team and BBC Sports Personality of the Year, being part of that team I felt we should have won the Sports Team of the Year, but Team GB won it based upon their incredible medal count. Obviously, you could see how that resonated with the British sporting public, the fact that they were announced as the team of the year. So the importance that people place on Team GB as a whole I think is great, and it's something that's really fun and proud to be a part of.
Q. Justin, do you have any sort of standout Olympic memories or an Olympian that you look back on and think, yeah, I can remember sitting glued to my TV as a youngster and watching that moment?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, Olympic Crispy (laughing), which is what I called Linford Christie when I was a young kid. I must have been obviously very young, very impressionable, but that was one of my earliest Olympic memories, the 100 meters, watching athletes like that race. In more recent times, Usain Bolt with his cool celebration and stuff like that. Mo Farah with the Mobot. Obviously we've had great representation on Team GB through a lot of sports.
But Olympic Crispy and Usain Bolt, I had a chance to meet Usain about a month or two ago as well, so that was cool.
Q. Have you had any thought of your celebration at all?
JUSTIN ROSE: (Laughing) I have not, but I'm sure we can come up with something in the next couple of weeks. I'll try to be creative. It might be a good Instagram competition to see what people come up with.
Q. What are the mechanics, Justin? When do you go down there, where are you staying, in the Village or are you staying privately, and how long will you be there?
JUSTIN ROSE: So the mechanics for me, I wanted to take it all in. I wanted to be a part of the opening ceremony. I wanted to see what that was all about. I felt like that would make it very real and that would kind of help inspire me in terms of the occasion and give me a kind of scale of what the Olympics is all about. So I wanted to take that on board. I also wanted to feel what the Olympic Village was all about. So I think we're still ironing out the exact details, but spend a couple nights in the Olympic Village early in the week, where things are going to be very relaxed for me, where I can have the opportunity to potentially take in some of the other competitions. That's another thing I want to do down there is actually view some of the games. I've never been to an Olympic Games, so kind of being a spectator as well for the first day or two, as well as getting on with my own preparations.
Then I move outside of the Olympic Village to a house near the golf course, just so it's more predictable travel time and I can stay on top of my own schedule just a little bit easier.
Q. Did you say you want to take part in the opening ceremony or is there some doubt as to whether or not you will be able to take part in it?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, I can walk the ceremony, should I choose. And I think we're still trying to iron out what that actually means. If that's a ten-hour day or a three-hour commitment or what have you. So, yeah, I definitely want to take all that on board and be there on Friday and just really feel the energy on the opening day.
Q. Obviously a number of other top golfers aren't going to Rio. Did you have any concerns at all about Zika? Did you have to think twice about it? Are you disappointed by the number of other top golfers that aren't going to be there?
JUSTIN ROSE: It's obviously disappointing; of course it is. There's no point lying about that. But totally respect and understand their perspective and their decision, and it obviously comes down to personal reasons, and for that you have to respect.
But I've been fairly unwavering in my commitment to it, and haven't really second-guessed it too much.
Q. What do you make of Rory's remarks that he'd rather watch the diving in Rio than the golf?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I mean, I heard that actually only this morning, so I haven't really had a lot of time to digest it. You know, hopefully slip of the tongue, you know what I mean? One of those moments. Yeah, I'm not personally taking too much on board by that comment.
Q. Can I ask the same question related to Jamie. How do you feel when you hear the players saying things about an event you're trying to build up?
JAMIE SPENCE: Yeah, it's disappointing, obviously. It would have been great for golf if all of the Top 10 or whatever would be there in Rio. Just hope that when we get to Tokyo that everyone manages to turn up and play.
Jack Nicklaus is my hero. I just missed playing with him in The Open in '97, and he said he'd walk to Rio to play in the Olympics, and I feel the same way. But hopefully golf will follow tennis' lead and eventually will get stronger and stronger.
Q. The head of the Ladies European Tour accused those withdrawing on the men's side of the Olympics as letting the game down very badly and having a myopic view. Rory and Jordan Spieth both said quite explicitly they felt no responsibility to carry the torch for golf. Do you think that's quite an instigate attitude?
JAMIE SPENCE: The head of the Ladies European Tour is entitled to what she wants to say. I'm here to represent Team GB. I'm not in charge of worldwide golf, thankfully. So as I say, I'm disappointed, obviously. It would have been great. I think this is a great opportunity for golf to be in the Olympics. I really do. I think to have a game that can go around the globe and spread the word of golf and everything that goes with that is a huge opportunity. For Justin to be sitting here as an Olympian, I'm really proud for him. I've known Justin a long time, I played with him when he was a young junior. For him now to be an Olympian, his dad would be incredibly proud. I hope you don't mind me saying that, Justin.
JUSTIN ROSE: Sure.
JAMIE SPENCE: And all of them, Catriona is so proud. We can only talk about how we feel as Team GB. And what other players feel at the moment, we hope we can change their minds.
Q. Do you feel this is a missed opportunity though? This is the greatest stage in sport and every member of the world's top four isn't going to be there.
JAMIE SPENCE: It's a missed opportunity for golf, of course it is, yeah. But as Justin said, each individual has his own reasons. I can't argue against those.
Q. For you personally, how would winning an Olympic gold medal compare to say winning a major? Are they comparable in your mind?
JUSTIN ROSE: That's obviously been a question that's been asked of me a few times and I don't think it's -- I don't think you can compare the two. I think if I was to fast forward ten years, I'd like my career to read "Justin Rose, multiple major champion and Olympic gold medalist. I think it's going to have that little niche category, and I think that it's always going to be potentially read out that way. It's going to be right there alongside the major championships, but not compared to. I just think it has its own category. It's once every four years. It's very unique. It's very different. It's very special.
I know Andy Murray for example, they have their Grand Slams and he won the gold medal, and I think that was a huge occasion and a big moment, and he'd probably put it in different columns but at the very top of each column. So, like I said, they stand alone.
Q. Do you feel that you have a responsibility to grow the game, you and the top players?
JUSTIN ROSE: If you want to call it responsibility, yes. Do I feel like it's nice to give back? Yes. I've received a lot from the game of golf. It's kind of -- the way the All Blacks go about their mentality is quite cool, and I think it's something we can all learn from. If you wear the Number 8 All Black shirt, you leave it in a better spot than you found it. And that would be a nice way to think about things from my point of view, sort of see your England golf sweater there and what have you.
I've received a lot of help from many different organizations within the game, and it doesn't take much to give back in certain ways, and I always try to do my fair share. I think there are times in your career where you know you need to be single-minded and maybe there are times of your career where it's time to give back, and that time might not be right now, but the mentality to give back, just being a good role model, going about your business day to day is important. That's the best way you can give back to the game is to be a positive role model in terms of how you go about competing and the temperament you show. I think that's the best way to feel like you can give back. Then if you can give back on top of that by time, effort, campaigns, money, whatever it might be, then that's a bonus.
Q. You came here obviously this week 100% focused on golf and winning the tournament. The Olympics is going to be a few percent, as you talked about already, wanting to enjoy the Olympics, embrace that experience and going to the opening ceremony. How do you strike that balance of getting your golf head on when you hit the first tee shot the first morning?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think that's when you rely upon your routine. Same as this week. I enjoy my practice rounds here at the Open. I came here, in fact, a week before the Open Championship. I enjoy just being here at Troon and sort of enjoying the occasion, and then once tomorrow morning rolls around, you fall back into routine. Being a pro 18 years, I'm pretty comfortable with what a Thursday morning looks like. I think that's where all your practice just beds in and that's why you have a routine. That's why you have a plan because you don't want it to feel different all the time.
So you kind of fall in and trust your routine Thursday morning. Just because it's the Olympics or the Masters or the Open Championship, whatever it may be, that's what being professional is all about, by just being able to make the same swing given the occasion.
Q. Can I ask you about Danny? He's obviously not with us this morning. How good a competitor is he? Have you spoken to him much? Are you fierce rivals when you get to Rio? Do you work together? How does it work out?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think it's a lot like this week. We ended up playing a few holes last night and there's a good banter between us, for sure. I think that we'll probably end up playing practice rounds together. May as well, you know. It would be more fun that way. There is definitely some information sharing that goes on out there. If you see someone putting to a certain part of the green, it kind of tips you off of where you think the pin placement might be, and the caddies will often figure out, these could be the four pins. When you've got more hands out there in preparation, it kind of makes it a little bit easier.
Without Danny saying, oh, I think this putt's six inches right to left. That's not going to happen. But you kind of can gauge off one another. You can see what clubs each other are hitting off the tee. You can start to feel what type of game plan might suit the golf course. You're kind of getting more looks at a practice round. So I'm sure that will be the case. But once Thursday comes around, each man for himself, obviously, in terms of who can have the shinier medal.
But at the end of the day, both of us are trying to contribute towards the approximate 350 athletes and the medal total that Team GB can accumulate. If I'm out of it, then pulling for Danny. If Danny's out of it, I'm sure it's an occasion, a rare occasion, where he'd be pulling for me too rather than just casually witnessing what happens at the end of the tournament. He's a bit more vested in it, I think. We both are.
Q. Are you happy with the format or do you wish they'd have tried something different and sort of gone with a national format, countries, team event?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think it's the right format for golf. If you're looking at getting the truest champion, 72-hole, stroke play golf is the tried to and true format. If you start to get funky team formats, it can dilute a certain player's potential. If you have a country with a great player and maybe a weaker player, that's probably not fair to the great player or the higher-ranked player, let's put it that way. So I think 72-hole stroke play is the most fair and simple and, I guess, it gives you the correct outcome. I think you can always -- it's the most reliable format, so I'm very comfortable with it.
Q. Have you seen the course, and what do you think of it? We're talking about the Olympic course in Rio.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, so Gil Hanse, I've had an opportunity to talk with him. He's the designer of the golf course and spent a bunch of time down in Rio. Is your accent, if I said Australian but it's New Zealand, I'm going to feel bad.
Q. It's Australian.
JUSTIN ROSE: So some of my favourite golf is the Australian sort of Sandbelt, and he's actually tried to use some of that inspiration for the golf course. It has like an Openish look, sort of a rugged look to it. My caddie "Fooch" has also talked with Gil, and we'll probably get a couple little tidbits of information and insight from him in the coming days and weeks, but we get pretty adept pretty quickly to figuring out a golf course. It's what we do, and we're certainly down there early enough from the Friday before. So we have the best part of a week to play the golf course and figure it out. So pretty comfortable with by the time Thursday comes around we're going to have sussed it out, so to speak.
Q. Can you give any example if golf is not in the Olympics after this chaos, how it will impact on future funding? I'm looking for an example of what's being funded since Olympic golf has been on the program.
JAMIE SPENCE: You're looking at me, and I'm looking at him. Well, we're not funded anyway. I'm a volunteer, as is Nigel and all the other people I've talked about with the golf. That's how I care about it. I care about golf. I care about Team GB. So far we're not funded. What happens in the future, I haven't got a crystal ball.
MIKE HAY: I think we need to be a little bit careful when we talk about the chaos, because actually in the girls' event, only one girl has pulled out and it's a fabulous opportunity for women's golf. I think if you look at soccer, football and the Olympics, I think if you asked some of the American players who won the Olympics, they'd probably rate that higher than the World Cup. So let's not jump to any conclusions just now. It could still be a very successful event in Rio, certainly as far as the women's event.
And Jamie's right in saying that golf at this moment hasn't triggered any funding from U.K. sport itself.
Q. Justin, the issue of drug testing came up yesterday. Obviously this is an area the IOC take very seriously. Do you think golf's procedures could be improved?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, I don't think they could be improved per se. I think the whole part of drug testing came into golf, I want to say, a handful of years ago now. Time does seem to fly, but very much for this case of golf falling in line with all the other major sports in terms of being eligible for the Olympics. I think that was the reason. I don't see any way to improve it. I don't see any reason to improve it. I think that I believe golf has that great image of being a clean sport, and that's obviously what the aim is of drug testing, is to keep sports clean, which is obviously very much what I stand by and what Team GB stands by and what golf as a whole should stand by.
I don't know how you would improve the procedures that are in place. I don't know what else they're looking for. They feel comprehensive enough to me.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports