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November 15, 2017

Justin Rose

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

NEIL AHERN: JUSTIN, thank you very much for joining us here this morning. You've been on pretty good form recently, haven't you. Chance at three in a row this week?

JUSTIN ROSE: We'll see. Last week was an important week. Did what I wanted to do, spent time with the family. Did some practise. Saw my coach. Yeah, ticked all the boxes that I wanted to last week, and I've arrived here in Dubai, fresh, ready to go, excited.

Those are the main ingredients, really, for playing well. You can never force a good week. You can never guarantee a good week, but the recipe is in place to continue doing what I've done the last few weeks.

NEIL AHERN: Ten years ago, you did something quite special to win the Order of Merit. You need something quite special this week. Feeling confident?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it's actually a very similar situation. I think mathematically, Valderrama in 2007, I could have maybe finished second or third, but went ahead and won the tournament. It's probably something fairly similar this week.

But end of the day, for me it's about -- to win The Race to Dubai, I have to contend in this tournament one way or another. I need to finish towards the top end of the leaderboard, and if you're going to finish at the top end of the leaderboard, you may as well focus on trying to win the tournament.

The objective it quite simple and quite clear from that point of view. But like I said, it's Wednesday; it's too early to think about winning. Thursday is too early to think about winning. Friday is too early to think about winning.

So it's just about putting myself in position, and then getting it done when you have that chance.

NEIL AHERN: You have had a couple runner-up finishes here, and you've been out on the course yesterday. How does the course look?

JUSTIN ROSE: Looks good. Really one of my favourite places to play golf. I enjoy it here. Great way to end the season. Pretty much guaranteed good weather. Course is always in good shape here.

Yeah, so there's no excuses almost. And it's a golf course that let's you play; let's you play aggressively. It's quite -- it's a fun course to play, really, and I think it rewards good iron play. Probably that's been a fairly strong part of my game of late but hopefully keep it going.

Q. Given the way the draw works here, are you relishing the chance to go rival to rival with Tommy in the opening round?
JUSTIN ROSE: It's going to be fun. I played with Tommy also in Turkey the first two days -- no, redrew, but the first day, certainly. I like playing golf with Tommy. I respect his game a lot. I love the way he swings the club. Feel like we get along well together.

So there will be no sort of, you know, sort of rivalry or intimidation-type tactics tomorrow. It will be just the first round of four. Yeah, I mean, ultimately, the first round is about just putting yourself in position and not doing anything too bad, really. It's about just playing good, solid golf.

So my objective tomorrow is to go out there and try to hit good shots and enjoy playing well. I have been playing well, and just to continue that momentum. That's my goal for Thursday.

Q. We've seen the strengths of your game for the last couple of weeks. What do you appreciate are the strengths of Tommy's game?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, I was impressed with his weekend last week. I know that actually -- I always chat to Tommy on a weekly basis. I know he's been playing really well. I know he's been hitting the ball really well. I know maybe he hasn't been scoring as well as he was earlier in the summer but I think he's playing well. So I fully expect him to have a good week, and probably will happen this week.

I was impressed with his weekend at Sun City. He's been on a long run of golf now, and I'm sure he's getting tired, but he showed a lot of determination over the weekend in Sun City and put together a good week to stretch his lead.

But yeah, I love his iron play. I love how controlled his finish is. In some ways, trying to emulate that myself with how he breaks the club and how he controls his irons. Yeah, he's a guy I enjoy watching play golf.

Q. Obviously mathematically there's three of you that can win The Race to Dubai, but for you coming in, two wins on the bounce, high on confidence on a course you've done extremely well and you enjoy. Would you say that kind of makes you the favourite this week? Would you feel the most confident coming in here out of the three of you?
JUSTIN ROSE: I still take Tommy's chances. You know, I think that any time you have -- there's no givens in golf. Like I said, his lead is significant. It means I've got to play well.

All I wanted to come in here thinking was that if I win, I didn't want to be too far behind Tommy; that if he finished second, I still couldn't win. So in some ways controlling my destiny from that point of view is important to me.

I like the fact that I don't have to think about anybody else. Maybe Tommy does; there's more scenarios in play that way, whereas for me I think I can just focus on playing good golf and get to the top of the leaderboard. That's as simple as I'm trying to keep it this week.

Q. The golf course is a place that you really enjoy and feel confident on; that helps you, as well.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like I won this tournament in 2000 -- when did I shoot 62? 2012? I thought that I had won. I was playing the last hole and was two shots ahead of the field, made birdie. So kind of felt like I had done enough and then Rory birdied the last five.

So that was one that got away. But yeah, definitely, it's a tournament I would love to win, certainly in the future, and this would be a great week to do it.

Q. Sounds like you were obviously paying attention to what Tommy was doing at the weekend. Were you actually watching TV coverage or checking on your phone, the scores? How close attention were you paying to what was going on?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, just kind of once a day I would check the scores and see what was going on. Then I think one morning on the weekend, it might have been Friday, I flicked on the TV, because it was on early in the morning when I was at home. I just flicked on the TV over breakfast. Curious why the scores were quite high. I think it was quite windy at Sun City, Friday maybe. Looked like the edges of the rough were quite bouncy. Fairways are always soft, kikuyu is always soft. But at Sun City I noticed there were a lot of double-bogeys happening and just kind of curious to see what was going on really.

But yeah, Sun City is such a tight golf course and the rough is firm, the bush comes into play pretty quick. So I was kind of glad I wasn't there (laughter).

Q. You mentioned you did a bit of work with Sean, your coach. Presumably after the form you've been in, there's nothing much wrong. Is that just a case of ticking over?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I caught up with Jason Goldsmith who I do some mental stuff with, just getting an MOT, really, after a couple weeks on the road, even though I'm playing well, you can fall into a couple of habits, I suppose.

Yeah, it was just about catching up with him and just getting a clean bill of health and him sending me on my way. So just trying to take care of all the things I can control, really.

Q. When you won the Order of Merit, you were a similar age to Tommy, what he is now. Can you recall what it was like to win it at 27 and what it did for you going forward?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I still think it's one of my biggest achievements in the game. Any time you beat world-class players over the course of a year, it means often a lot more than it does winning in a week. It stands up, and I think I did it only playing 12 events that year, which is unbelievable. I don't know really how it happened. Played well in the right events and played well in the majors and World events that year, and it was very rewarding to come to Valderrama and really play well when I had to.

For my name to go on a trophy that was dominated by Europe's greatest; when I look at that, obviously Faldo and Seve and Lyle and Woosie, and Monty and Monty and Monty and Monty and Monty and Monty and Monty and Monty and Monty, it's quite (laughter) and then to see my name go alongside Ernie Els and Retief and guys like that, it's a list that's certainly very, very impressive.

And when I won it, it was, okay, wow, kind of felt to me at the time, looking back, it was as if my potential as a kid, the Birkdale boy, it was kind of like -- I felt like I had really achieved something to justify some of that early hype by winning the Order of Merit back then.

Q. Sergio was saying yesterday you're impeccable tee-to-green, but he thinks that what are you familiar been doing better lately is putting. Would you agree with that general assessment with what's made you have such a good year this year?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think I've done some hard work on my swing in the summer. I think I made a few tweaks and changes, just to make my swing a little safer. I was kind of, you know, last year, I did have some trouble with the back and I was looking at all the areas, all the contributors to that, and made some changes.

Some have been noticing a slight difference in my swing and I've been enjoying that subtle change I've been making. It's posture related; certainly how I'm moving in transition and how I'm finishing.

There's been a lot of work in a lot of areas of my game, but putting, absolutely. Putting is often what translates from decent golf into winning. If I look back at China and Turkey, I would say I putted really well. Putted very solidly from inside six feet. Didn't give away too many cheap shots there, and then making more 20-footers, yeah.

I don't think about my putting as much as I used to, which is a sign of the fact I must be much more confident in it. I changed to sort of a claw-style grip over a year ago, so it's probably enough time now where it's natural.

Yeah, I think I focus now a lot more on the skill of putting rather than the technique of putting. By that, I mean green reading, and then just sort of doing performance drills on the putting green, rather than constant stroke work. So I think that my putting feels a lot more simple in my head.

Yeah, when I watch back on TV the putt that I holed to win in Turkey, my putting stroke looks a lot different than it did two years ago. But it's now become my stroke. I'm not trying to do that. It's just happening. So the hard work I guess beginning to pay off, yeah.

Q. From what I remember ten years ago, putting underlined, really was the foundation of your win in The Race to Dubai, Order of Merit, whatever we called it ten years ago. Your putting was sensational, really, most of that year.
JUSTIN ROSE: I think so. 2007, I did, I really putted well. Putting's a funny part of the game. The more you learn about it, the worse you can get. I kind of felt like that's what happened for a period of time. I began to learn more. I tried to get better.

But in the quest to get better, I kind of got worse because, I don't know, putting is kind of more of an art form than a science. I think I've really now got a nice blend of it all.

But I think more importantly, I don't sort of obsess about the perfection of my stroke as much as I used to.

Q. A couple of questions, really. Talking of putting, you remember the one that you made on the 18th from 2012, would you say it was the best putt that you ever made which did not go in?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, that's exactly what I tell: It's the best putt I've ever missed, for sure. (Laughter) it was an inch away from being an embarrassing putt, but it was a great putt. But obviously that's exactly how you had to play it.

I remember I was on the back right of the green, and the putt went up and broke pretty hard to the right. I had to get it almost as far out to the water hazard as I could get it for it to then fall down the slope towards the hole.

There was a moment where I thought it might go in. It was an amazing putt, and it seemed to take forever.

Q. Do you watch it often?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think the year after, I watched it and I was asked to recreate it. I think I did a pretty good job then, as well (laughter).

In some ways, it was like hitting a 30-foot putt. It wasn't like hitting a 90-foot putt because the last 40, 50 feet, whatever it was, it just kind of -- gravity was doing the work. So you're really only trying to putt to a spot 30 feet away from you.

Q. And secondly, if you suppose, miss the Order of Merit by 10,000 points, how frustrated will you feel on Sunday?
JUSTIN ROSE: I would say so be it. I think I've given it a great run here towards the end. I think that I would focus upon next year already. I would focus upon playing even better in the majors, World events, and The European Tour events and the Rolex Series Tour events that I choose to play and see if I can get it done another year.

I feel like I will be competitive years in the future. Yeah, it would be disappointing, of course, because it would come down to one shot, and there will be one shot this week that I'll look back on and go, oh, could of, should of, would of, done better there.

I've had tough losses in the past, and you absorb it and you move on. It's part of golf. I won't second guess anything. Certainly won't second-guess my schedule. It's just the way it is.

Q. Is it true you had a boys' weekend playing golf at Merion?
JUSTIN ROSE: About a month ago, yeah. Makes it sound a little bit more raucous than it was. (Laughter).

I love walking down memory lane there. It's a special place for me. You know, for me, it's always a bit of a double-axe trip: Play one day Merion and one play Pine Valley. You normally stay over at Pine Valley in the evening, and yes, it's just kind of a fun, nerdy golf trip, really.

Q. And how much of a goal of yours is it to get to world No. 1?
JUSTIN ROSE: You know, I wouldn't say it's front and center of my thoughts, really. I think that I've been very much aware of wanting to win more, as everybody does, but I feel like that was always going to be the next level for me.

Winning another major would again be another step forward in my career, but I think winning more regularly would be another step forward in my career, and that's what I'm focusing on. That's what I started to focus on a few months ago, in fact, and obviously it's nice that it's begun to happen. But the key is for me to keep that going now.

As we see, it's what DJ did. It's what Justin Thomas has done. It's what Jordan Spieth's done, and they really created a bit of a gap at the top of the World Ranking. Right now, I'm still three or four wins behind those guys. So I need to continue to win. Then if I start sniffing around the top, if I start getting close in points, then absolutely, it will become a huge objective. But I need to focus on what's going to get me there.

NEIL AHERN: Thank you, Justin. Good luck this week.

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