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November 1, 2017
AHMET AGAOGLY, President, Turkish Golf Federation
FIKRET OZTURK, owner, Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort
SEDA KALYONCU, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Turkish Airlines
MEVL√úT CAVUSOGLU, Minister of Foreign Affairs
AHMET AGAOGLU: Ladies and gentlemen it's my great pleasure to welcome you to the Turkish Airlines Open. Each year we look forward to making this year our best one yet.
Turkish Airlines Open is one of Europe's tournament on the European Tour calendar, but we definitely take pride in being one of most important tournaments on the schedule.
We are here to watch some of the best talents on the planet, and here in Antalya, we have last year's Olympic medalist Justin Rose, and Henrik Stenson, and we welcome Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter.
I would like to extend my gratitude to our sponsor, Turkish Airlines, for their support here and for golf in general all around the world. I would like to thank the Minister of Sport, Osman Askin Bak, and for his special contribution to this tournament, as well as golf international in general. And also Mr. Fikret Ozturk for his support and continued support to this sport of golf and for this tournament, as well.
We are glad with us you are here we will all enjoy wonderful event in Belek this week, and thank you very much once again for coming. Thank you.
SEDA KALYONCU: Good morning, Your Excellency, from the Golf Federation, Mr. Agaoglu, welcome to the Turkish Airlines Open, 2017. I'd like to also thank our players Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose for joining us today here.
Our commitment to golf has grown since 2013. As an airline flying to the most countries in the world, we fly to more than one hundred destinations around the world, and today our tournament, Turkish Airlines Open, is watched by more than 100 million people worldwide.
This tournament would not be possible without the hard work of The European Tour, Turkish Golf Federation and all the sponsors and our hosts. I want to thank them all.
Finally, I wish all the players competing in this year's Turkish Airlines Open the best of luck, and a special thanks to your excellency for his support. Thank you.
MEVL√úT CAVUSOGLU: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Turkish Airlines Open 2017. I have the privilege to represent perfect beautiful city and thank you very much for coming this year, as well.
Thanks to this tournament, Turkish Airlines Open, the sport of golf is becoming more and more popular in Turkey. My government and State of Turkey is supporting and sponsoring this organisation from the beginning. I'm here to reiterate our commitment to this organisation and to golf sport.
I am also here to reiterate our support for the next years, and The European Tour signed a three-year agreement with the Turkish Golf Federation and Turkish Airlines Open, and so after next year, we will continue supporting this organisation, Turkish Airlines Open.
Of course, the support of the State isn't enough to organise such a big event. Therefore, I would like to thank Turkish Airlines, our title sponsor, as well as the other sponsors that you'll see the names of some of them here.
Our president of the Turkish Golf Federation has been expending efforts from the beginning and I had his pleasure to be his assistant the last five years. He said a lot of nice thing about Antalya, this area, a golf destination, the best golf destination in the world. He loves golf and he is really enjoying hosting this big event here at this hotel and at this golf course.
Nice to have so many good players. Justin is here and Henrik is here. I had the pleasure to play two years ago at Doha, but due to an appointment I had to leave early, after I think hole 12 (laughter).
Thank you very much for your support of this organisation, which is so valuable for us and all Turkish golfers. Thank you.
STEVE TODD: Now I would like to introduce these major champions. Please welcome to the stage Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.
Warm welcome to the Turkish Airlines Open. Henrik, if I could start with you, it's your third appearance in this tournament. If I could just ask you your views on how this tournament has developed across the years become a Rolex Series event.
HENRIK STENSON: It's my third time playing here. I haven't been to Turkey at all before I came here in 2013, I believe was the first time. I was hugely impressed by this part of Turkey here with all the hotels and golf courses. Like I've said before, it's one of the biggest golf destinations and a truly great one.
So happy to be back. I've had pretty good success here. I think I was seventh and third in my two previous appearances. Even though I've got someone next to me and a few other guys that make sure I don't improve on that number, I will try my hardest this week.
Yeah, I'm glad it's part of the Rolex Series and one of our final events in The Race to Dubai and one of the big events of the year.
STEVE TODD: You touched upon your previous appearances here. You obviously finished second last week, a very strong performance. What would it mean to get a victory before the season's out, and how confident are you about your game at the moment?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, that would certainly be a good way to wrap up the year for me. If I were to be one of the ones on the top of the leaderboard this week, there's still more chances to challenge for the overall Race to Dubai. I certainly need to get something going, and I know Justin has Tommy in his sights, as well, with a win last week.
We've still got the opportunity to challenge for that. It's been a pretty good year. It has not been as good as 2016 for me, but still a year when I managed to win on the PGA TOUR and it would be nice to win on The European Tour, as well, and would love to make it happen this week.
STEVE TODD: Justin, we'll come to the Race to Dubai in a moment. You won the World Golf Final here in 2012, the precursor to this tournament. You obviously finished third the following year but give us your thoughts on being back here this week.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it's wonderful to be back. I've had a couple of really positive experiences here in the Antalya area. The World Golf Final I guess is the precursor to what we have now, which is, you know, a very prestigious event that's in a very important part of the schedule for The Race to Dubai.
All the players here are excited. We're all challenging, and like Henrik said, we've all got Tommy in our sights. With the prize money being as strong as it is, it offers the opportunity for a lot of the guys to play catch up.
More importantly, I heard so many great things about this resort from the players last year. Regnum Carya I think is one of the favourite destinations on Tour for the guys. It would have been nice to have the family here with all these facilities. But obviously I've been really enjoying the amenities the last couple of days, but it's about time to get down to business and focus on playing well this week.
STEVE TODD: You mentioned getting down to business. Obviously last week you come from winning in China, a WGC event. You've had a couple of days to absorb that victory. Just reflect on it a little bit and obviously what it means for you for the final stretch of the season.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it's one of those fortunate days that you get once in a while in your career where you kind of feel like you steal a tournament, really. Starting the day, you don't expect Dustin Johnson to help you out so much but you kind of know in the back of your mind that if you play a special round of golf, it's still possible.
I think maybe we've all had a win in our career that's unexpected, and certainly that was the case for me last week. But it was one of those rounds where everything happened for me on the back nine and everything happened just at the right time.
What I was pleased about is that when the opportunity presented itself, when I knew I was in a tournament, I managed to close out strongly.
Obviously, like I said, I needed a little bit of help. When the moment arose, I was able to put it away, which was great.
HENRIK STENSON: Did you have a similar experience on the last hole, as well --
JUSTIN ROSE: No, last hole I had someone breathing down my next the whole time. (Laughter).
Q. Was The Race to Dubai on your mind before last week, and now that it is, what would it mean to win again?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it was on my mind. I was very aware that I needed to play some special golf in my last three events. I'm not playing South Africa next week. So for me, it was always going to be China, then here in Turkey and then obviously take a week off just to go home and see the children and play Dubai.
The simple math was I had to win at least two of them. So part one is done, anyway. But it's really now about focusing on the next two events that I have to make a difference. So starting this week.
But yeah, it was certainly on my mind and I knew that I had to play some great golf to catch Tommy.
Q. Just wanted to ask you, you said that 2017 has not been up to the expectations you had for yourself. How frustrating is for a golfer to have a stop/start season?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, if you can't play in the -- it's part of being a seasoned veteran out here on Tour. Having played so many seasons, we all kind of have our little issues. It might be a back or a knee or neck or something. That's just part of it. I think overall, I've been quite fortunate not having to have more interference from injuries over my career.
You know, just got to accept it whenever those things happen, and get on with it. I mean, it's always hard to follow up the best season in your career with another one.
So I think I've done a pretty good job over the whole. I haven't been in contention as many times as I would have liked, but like Justin said, when he took the opportunity last week when it presented itself, I feel like I did the same at Wyndham.
Any season where you can get a win is always going to go down as a pretty good one. I'm still pretty pleased with the work I've done this year, and I hope I can pick up some momentum on the back end of the year to carry on into 2018, which is again, four majors and a Ryder Cup year. Got a lot of fun things to look toward to.
Q. (What is the most motivation for you now? Prize money or a trophy or World Ranking points)?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think obviously when you're playing tournament golf, there is always a big difference in prize money between winning and finishing second but there's a bigger difference in feeling and emotion.
I think for me, fortunately, you get to a point in your career where the money isn't the motivation; it's holding the trophy. I had not won for a little while. The Olympics was my last win. It had been a while and certainly on the PGA TOUR, I had not won for two and a half seasons. I had three or four second-place finishes this year, so I was more interested in the win than anything else that came along with it.
The other bonus is the World Ranking points. That's always something that obviously me and Henrik, you kind of chase down the guys at the very top of the World Rankings; you need to win tournaments to make inroads into World Rankings.
Those are my motivations, but now to be here and to be at your resort and have the opportunity to play in the Pro-Am today with you guys and share some of those stories makes it fun.
But yeah, from Thursday onwards, it's trying to put another body of work together to try to win another tournament. But the winning is the fun part.
Q. Winning in Shanghai, does that increase your motivation to become world No. 1?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it's a good question. I think I've always seen getting to No. 1 as a byproduct of winning the tournaments that I want to win. It's always been -- it's not my primary focus, I suppose.
But if the opportunity presents itself, I think it's just an amazing thing to have said on your C.V. that you've been world No. 1 at some point in your career. I think winning golf tournaments week-in, week-out is the motivation and I think that speaks more sometimes than your World Ranking position.
But I'm also very proud of the fact that the last four or five years, I've maintained a very solid World Ranking. I haven't slipped below 15th in the last five years, and you know, the consistency of that is something that motivates me. But yeah, my highest is No. 3 in the world, and of course, always looking to improve and set new goals.
But Dustin right now is a significant way ahead. So for me, the route to chase him down is to win a lot of tournaments. So that's what I'm focusing on right now.
Q. You talked at the start about closing out tournaments strong. Can you talk about what strength you feel in your game when you're in that position?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, yeah, I think I look calm, but I think I was pretty nervous, as well, playing the last few holes. Those were the fun nerves that you hope for.
I think for me I've always learned that just because you're nervous doesn't mean you're going to hit bad shots. I kind of try to relish that feeling. But I think to win tournaments these days on tour, and Henrik would probably agree, is that you can't be defensive anymore. You can't really just try and par in.
Guys are pushing so hard these days, so many quality players. I think guys are very comfortable with the lead out on Tour these days. You just have to continue to have an aggressive mind-set if you are going to win tournaments.
HENRIK STENSON: The key is to focus on the things that you need to do to keep your game plan and hit the shots you want to do and as you've done the previous three and a half days.
And I think it's the ability to keep calm and the right choices, and keep on doing that under pressure. Obviously that's what makes you win golf tournaments. That's what hurts when you don't manage to do that, and it doesn't work out the way you want. But winning or losing is part of what we do, and that's what motivates you when you don't get it done, and you want to come back another time and do it better.
But really, being able to keep your focus on the things that matter when is you're under pressure, that's obviously a huge part of being a winner.
JUSTIN ROSE: I think, also, just to elaborate on that, in golf, we lose far more than we win. In a sport like tennis, you might not win in the overall tournament, but you're going to win six matches up until the final.
So you kind of learn to get that winning feeling of closing out tennis matches or whatever sport it might be; whereas in golf, you only get a few opportunity a year to really get that feeling. So you never really get comfortable, and you never really ingrain that habit unless you go on a crazy run. In golf, you really need to absorb the losses and learn from them and come back stronger.
Q. For both of you, Justin, you have won every year since 2010. Henrik, in the last four years, you have been in the top five in the ranking every year. Do you look at those kind of stats, and if you do, how do you react to such stats?
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I look at the stats but I don't look at the conclusions you guys draw from them (laughter). No, I'm just kidding.
No, it's really -- following the World Rankings, yeah, I do follow it. Not necessarily every week but every other week or so. But like Justin said, that's a by-product of playing well. You're going to move up the World Ranking. If you're not playing well, you're going to start going the other direction.
So sitting there and following that piece of paper is not going to make you any better or worse. It's about working on your game and making sure that year by year, you learn and you grow from those past experiences and you come up with a better plan on how to practise better and how to become better.
I think, again, the motivation of winning tournaments at this stage in our careers, that's what keeps us moving forward. In this competition, you've got to keep on moving forward. Otherwise those young guys are going to come up and beat us more often than we want to. It's really about focusing on the things that matters. All the rankings and everything else, it's going to take care of itself.
The stats, obviously that's something that are helpful for you to see where you're at and where your game is at. Sometimes you get insight from that that you might not necessarily come off yourself. So it can help to look at where you are on the stats and what you need can improve on and so on.
JUSTIN ROSE: My point of view is exactly the same. You just have to focus on the things that you can control.
Obviously last week, that story line reappeared that I've won every year since 2010 but until then, no one was really saying, Oh, Justin was won every year since 2010; you're running out of time. I think when it happens, it becomes a nice story line, but it's not something you focus on week-to-week.
Q. After winning the Olympics, a major, why does winning The Race to Dubai still matter?
JUSTIN ROSE: It matters because you've beaten the best players in Europe and for the most part the best players in the world. If you can win a tournament, you've beaten the guys over a week and that's fantastic. But a lot of guys can have hot weeks.
If you win over the course of a season, that speaks volumes. I think to measure your game over the course of a year tells you that you've really been solid and you've really achieved something special.
Q. I was expecting this question -- you got the first medal for golf, and with a Silver Medal, the Olympics are different -- what would you say -- what was the Olympic experience for you? How was it for you?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think for me it was just an absolutely incredible experience that far exceeded my expectations. I was one of the golfers that was very positive about golf being back in the Olympics. I thought it would be a fun opportunity to go and compete in something completely different.
There was some negativity around golf getting back into the Olympics but I think once the golf event started in Rio, it was one of the most positive events of the whole Olympic Games. The crowd that came out, they were so patriotic. It had a feeling to me of half-major, half-Ryder Cup, especially on the un-Sunday. Henrik had a big Swedish contingent out there.
I had a big British contingent. There were flags flying. It was just such a different experience and I think it captured obviously our attention because down the stretch it was really important to both of us.
I think more importantly, it captured the golfing world's attention. I don't play a round on Tour now that I don't hear something about the Gold Medal. When I won the U.S. Open, that was fantastic and I heard something maybe for a couple of months. But then someone wins The Open Championship and then someone wins the PGA Championship and things go on and on.
But like you say, the Olympics are something very different, very special. But I think what made it even more special was the fact that you guys care and the fact that the golf world actually did pay attention and I think that that's maybe now what the players are realising; that it is actually an important event.
HENRIK STENSON: It's a great honour to compete for your country. Always has been. To be part of the Olympics, you were part of something bigger than just your sport. You were part of the world of sport and coming from a sporting nation, I've grown up watching the Summer and Winter Olympics as a kid and to be part of that was great and something I would do again if I get the opportunity, I would be there to try and get that Gold Medal in 2020.
We had a great match out there and it really showcased our sport to the world; not just to the golfers, but to a lot of sport fans, and I think that's fairly good for our sport to get more people interested in playing the game and see what it's about.
Yeah, I had a great time. The only thing that could have made it better was standing a little higher on the podium. But I think coming there and being a medalist was the No. 1 goal, really, and I had a chance to win the gold. We had a great match. Someone's got to win, someone's got to lose, like I said, and I'm really proud of my performance and that we went to Rio and participated.
JUSTIN ROSE: I think also, saying that, though, obviously Henrik and I are always going to have a positive experience of the Olympics and where we finished and both medalled; and it was amazing. There were great stories from guys like Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, guys who came away from the week with absolutely nothing other than memories and they loved the week. It's one of their favourite that they ever had in a golf tournament.
I think that's even a more powerful story than the guys who win. The guys who win, of course, you're going to come away thinking highly of it. But it was the guys who actually ended up not really having anything to show for the week still had a wonderful time.
Q. Your pick for winning Race to Dubai or European Tour Golfer of the Year or Augusta --
JUSTIN ROSE: It's a great question. I haven't thought about it. I think majors do and should hold a lot of value. That's what we all aspire to.
So I think Sergio, having won three times this year on The European Tour, and having a Major Championship, I think that probably still favourites -- especially if he finishes second or third in The Race to Dubai.
Yeah, his season has probably the highest high. Race to Dubai would be phenomenal and would be probably my highlight of the year, but I think that his high is probably still that little bit higher.
Q. Just wondering your reaction to Tiger Woods making a comeback, and given the time he's been away, what's the challenge that he faces?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think we've all seen he's been trending towards playing via Twitter, Instagram, however he's been posting his pictures. I think that you can tell that he's excited. You can tell that he's beginning to get some confidence back in his body. And obviously with that, confidence will come back in his golf game.
I think from my point of view, to expect him to come out and win and compete immediately, is maybe unrealistic. But I think that is just fantastic for the golf world to see him back healthy and out of pain.
For me, that's the biggest thing for him and he can build on that. And no doubt, knowing Tiger, it will take him a week or two or three of feeling good for him to start thinking that he can achieve some fantastic things again. But step one for him is being out of pain and enjoying the game of golf and he can definitely build on that.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, definitely, it will be great to see him back. He's been the top player to play our game and what he's done for the game, it's been amazing. It will be good fun to see him back out competing again, and like Justin said, the No. 1 thing is to be healthy. You can't compete with the best players in the world if you're not healthy, so that's the first step. And obviously feels like he's there and ready to start competing again.
So we welcome him back and yeah, it's going to be a bit of a journey to be back in good form. He's been away from the game for quite some time and it's hard to go from just practising to being competitive at the highest level. But he's someone that you never want to count out. I'm going to follow it like everyone else.
Q. I know you've got Tommy in your sights this week, but what do you think about his chances for making The Ryder Cup Team?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think Tommy has got a great chance of making The Ryder Cup Team. I think already The Ryder Cup Team, I'm getting excited about. A couple of our rookies from last year are going to be no longer rookies. They will have a lot more experience under their belt and they will get on the team again.
Tommy would be a great addition to the team just the fact of how he plays golf. He's a great golfer. He can play fourball, foursomes; he makes putts; he hits the ball beautifully. He's a great guy and he'll really contribute in the team room.
I'm really liking the way The Ryder Cup Team is shaping up. You have a lot of English players playing really well but there's a lot of talent on The Auto European Tour. I'd love to see Alex Levy make the team, just being French, a French player. Love the flair in which he plays. He seems to play good, aggressive golf; that would be a cool addition.
But, you know, you don't want to put too much pressure on these guys because I know it's already in their minds. There's no point talking it up too much. There's a lot of golf to be played between now and September. But so far, so good, I think with the team.
HENRIK STENSON: Yeah, I think you saw the American Team make that transition in the last couple of Ryder Cups the last six years, something like that. They have got new players, strong players on their team, and I guess you could feel that a little bit last time in 2016 that we had six rookies on the team and there were a few of the regulars that weren't there.
It's exciting to see the new players and so many players coming up on The European Tour and they are going to be the players that are go going to be on our Ryder Cup Team for years to come. It's been great to see so many new players play so well and quite a few of them are going to be on that team in 2018.
STEVE TODD: Henrik, Justin, we thank you both for joining us.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports