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July 18, 2002

Justin Rose


STEWART McDOUGAL: Justin 68 at 3 under par, tell us how your round went.

JUSTIN ROSE: Obviously I got off to a really good start, par, birdie, birdie. I saw my name on the leader board straightaway, which was a nice start and capped off the front with an eagle on the 9th which suddenly shot me to the top of the leader board. I think the back nine played a little bit more difficult. But I was happy overall.

Q. Justin, after all the speculation and advice about playing with Tiger the last couple of days, how did you handle it and how did you like it?

JUSTIN ROSE: As I was trying to say yesterday, I was going to try to focus on my own game, stick on, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I was pretty nervous on the first tee, it must be said, more nervous than I've been all year, to be honest, but I nailed a 2-iron down the fairway, which settled the nerves pretty quickly.

Q. You say you're happy overall. Are you more than happy, because you've come through what is obviously a new experience?

JUSTIN ROSE: I didn't know exactly how I was going to react, but I did know I had the ability to cope with it, and so in that sense, it's nice to have done all the right things out there.

Q. That must be, though, a different experience from playing with just any other player because of the pressure, that tension from outside?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yes, Tiger was the one player. There definitely is an aura about him. I think the first time you play with him it is a bit of an eye-opener but I didn't get caught up in watching him or all the stuff that goes on around him. I still felt focused on my own game, and realized the Open Championship is an important tournament for me; not just playing with Tiger Woods, but the Open is important.

Q. You outscored Tiger Woods today. What's your feeling about putting that in perspective for the next three days?

JUSTIN ROSE: I made a couple of quid on the 18 holes today. I think I got 5:2 odds. Outscoring Tiger today, doesn't mean anything for the rest of the tournament, it's just the first day. At the moment I'm joined leads, so I'm happy with the score. I have a feeling somebody is going to make a couple more out there this afternoon, but it is a nice position to be in after day one, day one, and day two is jostling for position, shot-for-shot, getting your name on the leader board come the weekend.

Q. Talk about how the course played and course management, was it playing very calm out there today? How did that affect the way you attacked it?

JUSTIN ROSE: This course, you have to really think your way around the bunkers, they are incredibly well placed. There are a lot of irons off the tee. I hit my driver three times and my 3-wood once, I think. There are a lot of irons out there, which makes strategy very important. It's all about getting the ball into play off the tee and attack it as much as possible from fairway to green, that's the way I see the golf course.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JUSTIN ROSE: The first tee felt very similar to Birkdale, to be honest, the crowds, five, six deep, whatever they were, and hitting a 2-iron off the tee, and not looking very big. It did have that sense. Actually I said to my caddy on the first tee this is a little bit what Birkdale was like, and then walking down 18, I felt like I got a really good reception too, which was nice.

Q. Did you play more defensively on the back nine, or was it just how the balance ran for you?

JUSTIN ROSE: I didn't play as well on the back nine, basically, is the reason. I hit a shot that's been sort of bugging me over the last couple of weeks is a slight pull with my irons, and I hit a few of those on the back nine, but made a few good up-and-downs out of the bunkers, but basically didn't quite play as well on the back nine.

Q. Tell us about the eagle on 9.

JUSTIN ROSE: I hit a 2-iron from the tee. There is a horrible bunker that's about 265, 270, so I hit a 2-iron, actually I was basically right on the edge of it. I was a little bit lucky and the best shot of the day, which was a 4-iron, 244 yards to the hole. It was a little short of the green and then rolled it in left to right, which is the way the green slopes. The noise of the crowd made it definitely sound like -- it sounded like it was close to going in for two. That was the best shot of the day. The putt was obviously missable. It was a 5-footer uphill right to left, and it was really nice to make the putt.

Q. So you were focusing on your game. Was there any conversation between you and Tiger or was it --

JUSTIN ROSE: There really wasn't any conversation. Very complimentary about -- he's good about shots you play and doesn't fail to not acknowledge a good shot, which that's all you can ask for really from a playing partner.

Q. But no small talk?

JUSTIN ROSE: Not really. There's plenty to think about out there.

Q. Do you feel the crowd played a big part; do you feel they were urging you on?

JUSTIN ROSE: I think so. As soon as I got my name on -- made a couple birdies they got into it more, and maybe it swung a little bit of support my way out there.

Q. What do you think of your playing partner? He seems like a character.

JUSTIN ROSE: I didn't really know him at all, but from watching American golf, he is very happy-go-lucky. He's an incredibly good player, too, good ball-striker, sound swing, and nice guy too.

Q. Tiger says you've got the game here to win. Is he right?

JUSTIN ROSE: Well, that's very nice. I know I have got the game to win if all goes well. It's just a matter of -- I think a lot of guys -- well, a lot of guys have the game to win. It's a matter of producing it. To say I've obviously produced it today to a certain extent, that's very complimentary.

Q. Can you tell what happened to Tiger on the first tee with the photographer?

JUSTIN ROSE: I think somebody clicked while he was at address, about to set the club back and he backed off and that was it really. That's all I noticed.

Q. Did you see any signs of him getting frustrated; he couldn't get a putt to drop?

JUSTIN ROSE: Not really. I think he stayed pretty patient today. He kept hitting on the fat side of the hole. It looked like he definitely had a game plan out there and he stuck to it. (Inaudible) It's the same for everybody. It balances out over a year or over a week. You just have to keep playing.

Q. When you were going through your low point right after turning pro, could you even think about a day like today?

JUSTIN ROSE: I guess when I was going through my low point, it would have been a long road back to this point, definitely. It would have seemed like a mountain to climb. I did put in a lot of hard work and it was fantastic to be in this situation now, now having gone through a couple of tough periods.

Q. Do you feel like a professional out there, the youngest player in the tournament?

JUSTIN ROSE: I am one of the youngest. I feel a bit battle hardened, to be honest.

STEWART McDOUGAL: Justin, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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