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June 4, 2004

Justin Rose


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Justin, thank you for joining us for a few minutes. Great round today. I know it was a disappointing finish with that double bogey on 18, but you have to be pretty happy to be in the position you are. You're pretty familiar with this position. You were leading at The Masters and you did this last year on the PGA TOUR. Why don't you talk about your round today and we'll go into questions.

JUSTIN ROSE: Sure. It was just a perfect round out there, teeing off first, fresh greens, relatively no wind. It was ideal scoring conditions.

To make the most of it is very satisfying. I think the difference between today and yesterday was the fact that I putted a little bit better. David Leadbetter and actually his wife Kelly gave me a little putting tip on the phone last night. They said my stroke was a little bit too long, and when the greens are this quick you can't really commit to the putt, so I just tried to shorten it up a little bit today, and it really helped me to feel like I was being more positive on the greens.

Q. Does she get part of his fee?

JUSTIN ROSE: I think no, but she's got some great ideas and she's a good sounding board sometimes.

Q. How long have you been working with him?

JUSTIN ROSE: A long time, since 98, pretty much ever since I turned pro.

Q. Did he walk with you today?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, he walked a couple holes. I saw him early on in the round, yes.

Q. Joan mentioned The Masters. What did you take out of that experience, holding that lead and doing so well there?

JUSTIN ROSE: I learned halfway is nowhere near. Also last week I was holding the lead back in Europe at the Volvo PGA so I've been seeing my name on the leaderboard so it gives me a lot more confidence. I think the lesson I've learned is you've got to stay patient, play shot for shot, and thinking about winning or thinking about leading is irrelevant really, and the better you can do that or not think about winning or leading, the better.

Q. Did Kelly see your putting stroke, or how did it come about that she told you over the phone?

JUSTIN ROSE: Actually I got an email about a week or two ago from her saying give us a call if you get two minutes. I've got an interesting thing with the putting stroke. I think it was more so like what David mentioned to her. I was speaking to him and she jumped on the phone for two minutes and told me her views.

Q. What's the difficulty on the 18th? I mean, you're not the only one to have problems there just in the first two days. What makes it so difficult now?

JUSTIN ROSE: You've just got to hit a perfect tee shot really. There's no bailout. The wind today was off the left, so it made the fairway play even narrower. I felt like I hit a solid 3-wood and it trailed off at the end and caught the edge of the trap. There's no bailout. Obviously right is better than left, but you can't bank on getting a decent lie in the trap, which unfortunately I didn't today, but it's a tough hole. The good thing about the hole is it's not overly long. It doesn't need to be 470 to be a good, tough hole.

Q. After you came out of the trap, then you put your third in the bunker.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I was just saying, I had like 47 yards off a downslope with the ball sitting down a little bit, too, and just a wet fairway off the downslope. It was just a nasty shot really. Well, I just caught it heavy unfortunately and flopped it into the trap. That green is also pretty tricky. I knew if I didn't get my fourth shot up to the pin, it was going to roll down pretty much back to my feet, so I got a little bit too aggressive with it and left myself a long one.

Q. How did you play last weekend after holding the lead?

JUSTIN ROSE: I played solid, hit the ball really well, felt good. It was just a case, again, of feeling like it didn't take many chances on the greens. Wentworth greens can be very tricky and I struggled to make any headway on the greens, but the game felt pretty solid tee to green.

Q. Can you talk about that bunker shot on 18, what club you hit, what kind of stance you had to take to get it out of there?

JUSTIN ROSE: I had to kind of stand outside of the trap and the ball was probably about a foot below my feet. I had to try and hit 8-iron in there. Because the ball was so far below my feet I was banking on catching it a little thin and probably compensated a little bit. But when you're swinging the ball so far below and you're kind of squatting, it's hard to make a good turn on it.

Q. Are you at the stage now where you find yourself a couple weeks before majors getting energized, feeling any different?

JUSTIN ROSE: I certainly look forward to the majors for sure. I'm at a position in my career where I can totally 100 percent devote my two, three weeks prior to the Masters. This for me is obviously a huge tournament and I'm glad I'm here, but definitely my eyes are on the U.S. Open and taking next week off in order to prepare and do everything I want to do. I want to feel ready to play.

At the end of the day, the majors are the events we play, and if you win one of those, it's a great career made.

Q. What do you feel like you need to work ongoing into the Open?

JUSTIN ROSE: I really don't know what to expect. I think this U.S. Open is probably a little different than most, but probably a few more punch shots. I believe it's pretty much guaranteed to blow there, so punch shots, keeping it under the wind, just working your ball a little bit more with your irons and maybe kind of some tee shots which you can sting out there a little bit and chase them down the fairway without the wind interfering too much, just kind of more British Open Championship-like in a lot of ways. Obviously the speed of the greens -- I think this week will be great preparation in terms of that, in terms of some of the putts we'll have.

Q. This is ancient history for everybody overseas that knows about you, but for the people here that don't, after you made the splash you did as an amateur, you kind of disappeared for a while when you turned pro. Could you just talk a little bit about what you went through those years to try to get back to playing at the level you're at now?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, just a year or two of really, really hard work. It was frustrating. I didn't see any results for such a long time. But basically I obviously worked hard with David and just battled my way through. The way I looked at it is, I could just see progress. A lot of my results weren't necessarily reflecting it, but I could feel myself getting slowly better and better. I never lost sight that there was a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. I think deep down I knew I was going to pull through, but definitely it was hard work I needed to get me through.

Q. And you had the advantage of being young?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, that's one good thing. At 17 you're not pressed for time (laughter).

Q. Did you feel a lot of pressure to turn pro after the British?

JUSTIN ROSE: Well, that's the misconception, I turned pro straight on the back of the Open Championship. I actually made the decision to turn pro about a month and a half prior to the Open because I played Walker Cup and I had won a few of the big tournaments in the UK, and I figured I'd be covering the same ground playing the same season as an amateur, and I figured I may have learning to do, but I may as well do it in the professionals. When I failed to win the British Amateur Championship that's when I made the decision to turn pro.

Q. There's been a lot of issues back and forth with the Europeans on guys not being able to do their 11 events to keep their card, traveling back and forth, really taking themselves out of the rhythm of playing this Tour. You obviously are doing both. Can you talk about that and do you have any feelings about when guys say they can't make 11 events in Europe? What's your thought on that?

JUSTIN ROSE: Well, my thought on it is that if you're in the top 50 in the world it's kind of easy to do. That's the key factor really. If you're in the top 50 you've basically got seven events on the World Money List. You really have to play four, which is easy to do. I think the tough thing is if you fall out of the top 50 you've got to play 15 year, and it's going up to 12 in Europe, so that's 27 events, which is kind of like a full schedule for most guys, so it would involve a lot more traveling. If you're out of the top 50 in the world it's a pretty tough thing to do, play both tours.

Q. Do you have any sympathy for these guys?

JUSTIN ROSE: No, not really. Well, in a way. If you want to play Ryder Cup then you've got to make the choice of how much you want to play Ryder Cup, in my opinion. They need to commit to the fact that you need to play your 11 events. I mean, it's two great tours, and it is a sacrifice to play -- you're sacrificing something to play both tours, but you can't have it all really, is what I think. It's obviously a great situation to be in, but provided you're in the top 50 in the world that's the best scenario.

Q. But you're willing to make the sacrifice either way?

JUSTIN ROSE: You know, for me I'm on the cusp of the top 50 so I've gone into some events already which are accounting for both tours, so I'm not struggling to get up my numbers on both tours. I think this is my tenth event in the States and I've already played seven or eight in Europe, so I'm not really struggling. But say next year if I'm not in the top 50, then it'll be a different decision for sure.

Q. When did it go up to 12?

JUSTIN ROSE: I'm not sure if it has or if it's going to, but I think because of this World Match Play event at Wentworth, the HSBC one, I think that's now counting for the Money List, so they're, therefore, going to bump it up to 12 events to try to compensate.

Q. That's not much good if you're not in it, though.

JUSTIN ROSE: Exactly. The way I look at that effect is the fact that it is an Open -- anyone can play. It's how you compete in the majors and a certain amount of events in Europe, so it is open to everyone.

Q. You talked about taking advantage this morning of the conditions out there. Do you think it's going to be tough for somebody this afternoon to replicate playing as well as you played?

JUSTIN ROSE: Well, I noticed the wind was getting up a little bit as I was finishing up there. I don't think -- it's never quite as easy in the afternoon, just purely traffic on the greens, things like that, but there's definitely a score out there for sure. I don't think there's more than really half a shot between morning and afternoon. I don't think it's a massive difference.

Q. Two competitive rounds at this course. Does anything surprise you or not surprise you, and did you seek any kinds of words of wisdom from guys who have been here before?

JUSTIN ROSE: No, you kind of -- it was sort of what I expected in a way. Because the fairways are soft, they're playing even wider. That was kind of what I was expecting. The premium is how you hit your irons around here. That kind of excited me because I knew I was coming here hitting my irons quite well. But no, nothing surprises me really. I think the greens are just incredibly tricky, and I find that they're difficult to read, too. Because they're quite gradual slopes in a lot of ways; they tend to break more than they look. I think this course -- I'm kind of contradicting myself, but it needs almost a little bit of local knowledge. Even though I haven't seen it, I've settled into it quite well.

Q. It looks like you didn't come close to dropping a shot until the last. Where do you rate this round in your career as far as quality?

JUSTIN ROSE: That's a good question. It's probably going to be one of the better rounds for sure, especially on this golf course in this tournament in this situation. Yeah, it will be a great round. It's kind of funny, whenever you play a great round, it comes quite easily and you don't think it's such a big deal, so it's tough to rate it right now because I felt strong through it in a way.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Can we go over your -- you went over your double bogey -- your birdies from this morning.

JUSTIN ROSE: 3rd hole, hit 2-iron, then sand wedge to eight feet -- I'm sorry, pitching wedge to eight feet.

5, hit it in the right rough off the tee, laid up down the left side, and then hit 9-iron in to about 15 feet, made the putt.

6, hit driver, wedge to six feet.

7, hit driver, 3-wood into the greenside trap, splashed out to four feet, made the putt.

Then 9, hit 3-wood, wedge to 15 feet, made the putt.

14, I hit 2-iron, lob wedge, spun off the front of the green, came to rest on the collar and I bladed a sand wedge to 25 feet and it managed to go in.

Next hole, I hit driver, 4-iron to the edge of the green and chipped to three feet and made the putt.

Q. How long did it take you to figure out the putting tip was working?

JUSTIN ROSE: First green really. I had like a 75-footer from the front of the green and just felt like the speed of the greens immediately. Sometimes the first green is often very important just to settle you down, and I managed to do that today.

Q. How close did you putt it?

JUSTIN ROSE: About three feet.

Q. How fast are these greens from what you've experienced this year so far?

JUSTIN ROSE: They're definitely right up there with -- right now behind Augusta, but I can't really of anything else that's been quicker.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Justin, for joining us.

End of FastScripts.

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