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January 17, 2018

Justin Rose

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

STEVE TODD: Many thanks for joining us, welcome back to Abu Dhabi. Terrific end to 2017. How excited are you about playing in this event but also the year ahead?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I mean, I think this is such a great place to start the season. Well, I guess the season's underway, but to start the year. I think everyone's come off somewhat of a break.

So even though we all know things start right after The Race to Dubai in Hong Kong, but mentally I think there's a little bit of a switch off around Christmas, new year. Everyone wants to let the brain go soft for a few weeks and then you sort of gear backup and this is just such a great place to start.

Obviously HSBC always host a lovely tournament here. The golf course here in Abu Dhabi is always in great shape. I think in the beginning part of the year, you kind of want to play in places where you know you're going to have good weather, good course conditions and obviously against a strong field.

For me it's a great place to start things off, get the momentum going again, and we all know what's ahead, lots of big tournaments, and then major season, FedExCup and then also for me, a little bit different this year hosting the British Masters, as well. Lots of things to look forward to this year.

Q. Did you give yourself a kick up the backside after the PGA last year, or what clicked after that week?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think often when you make subtle changes, there's a bit of a lag effect. And I think after the PGA at Wentworth, that was really when I made a few subtle changes, and through the summer, they didn't really pay off.

. But I think also the fact of going into the FedExCup, you see guys have won three, four times, you're a mile behind them in terms of points but the fact you play for four times points offers you that little bit of a lifeline going into the Playoffs on the PGA TOUR which kind of helped encourage me if I could get me game going, I could actually make some inroads. That was the way that played out.

Obviously I wasn't able to win in the Playoffs but I came close, finished second at the BMW, coulda, shoulda, woulda; I felt like THE TOUR Championship was an opportunity to win. But that set things up, and yeah, it was then really, really nice to get that sort of winning, get the monkey off my back there in China and keep it going, really, for the remainder of the season. It was a lot of fun.

Q. Do you feel like this is the best you've played in your career over a sustained period?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think so. I think it's ten, finished the season with ten straight Top 10s, and that's not been done by me and probably not been done by many.

So that was a really solid, consistent run of golf. And then to throw three wins in there and have a couple of other chances where, as a player, you look back at tournaments you win but then tournaments you feel like you could have or should have won, yeah, that was a really, really strong run of golf, and looking forward to just keeping that momentum going as soon as possible.

Q. I was just wondering, how do you keep that momentum going, given that you played so well towards the end of the year, and then you had that break. What did you exactly do during the break to make sure that you come out all guns blazing again?
JUSTIN ROSE: I did nothing, really. I think I put so much effort into the end of the season, not just sort of mentally but physically, I travelled a lot, went through a lot of time zones.

So for me it was really important in order to protect and preserve my form, was to do nothing. I feel like -- to basically reinvest in myself. I stayed in the gym all Christmas, kept the body moving, kept the body fit but didn't really focus too much on the golf side of things. I think that's important. I always do that. Always spend, maybe it's a week, maybe it's two weeks, maybe it's 2 1/2 weeks where I don't touch a club around Christmas.

I think it's really important to miss the game. I kind of like to have that itch to play again, then I know it's time to go. So that's normally my formula. That's what I did. I think for me this year, I'm not taking a prolonged off-season, so in order to keep my form going, it's not an eight-week break, take three weeks off, play a couple, take a few more weeks off and then get going in the Florida Swing.

I knew that I needed to take some time off, but I'm not taking a prolonged break just to keep the momentum up.

Q. And when did you start practising again?
JUSTIN ROSE: I would say 3rd or 4th of January.

Q. I don't know if you're aware of this, but there was a survey at home last week which golf came out on top as the most boring sport to watch which raised a few eyebrows. As we start the new year, do you think the game has a bigger challenge than ever to remain relevant, and dare I say, popular, and is it something you guys are conscious of as you're playing?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, that's surprising to me.

I think if you -- I think certainly if you ask a golf fan, golf's not boring right now. I think there's many great story lines. The young guys are doing incredibly well. We're on the verge of watching Tiger come back and I think this come back definitely looks for real, which I think is an exciting time for golf.

If you're going to ask a population, sure, I think golf still has a stigma of being an old man's sport, for people who aren't aware of really what the sport's all about. But I think people in and around the game don't feel that way, and yeah, we want to grow the game of golf but I think the people that are invested in golf are, I think it's exciting times.

Q. As someone who has played through both scenes, do you think the game benefits from having that one dominant figure or is it just as good when there's been quite a few guys jousting back and forth for the big titles?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think people love to see history being made, history being broken. So obviously that takes a dominant figure to do that.

I think that Tiger was so dominant for a while, we don't appreciate how dominant some of these other players have been recently. I think there's a lot of dominance on Tour. I think the top five or six guys in the world have really separated themselves from the rest, and I think that there's a form of dominance at the top but it's spread a little bit more evenly than just one guy but.

I think the one guy we all know we're talking about could make things incredibly interesting where you have the best of both worlds, someone coming back with history, trying to create even more history and legacy, and yet there's so much more parity and more interest because there's more story lines rather than just one. Hopefully we can find, with the Tiger comeback and obviously with the young guys playing really well, and a couple of us old guys trying to make it a bit more interesting for the young guys, there could be a lot more story lines this year.

Q. Sounds a strange thing to say but going into the majors, which are a little bit away, you're still able to fly under the radar a little bit. Are you comfortable with that, and is that something that you feel could work in your favour going into the major season again?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. It's an art form. (Laughter).

I think yeah, I'm more than happy with that, absolutely. Your clubs do the talking at the end of the day, so you turn up on the week, the golf course doesn't recognise who is No. 1 in the world. You've got to build a new body of work every single week. There's no point in talking about it.

It's just a matter of trying to do it. Under the radar is good, and if I am No. 1 in the world going into majors, then that would be my same mind-set is the course won't recognise that; the fact is it's just every single week you've got to focus on your game and your process no matter what.

Q. I'm sure every season brings its own level of excitement, but has it been raised for you this year, given that everything seems to be in place for you?
JUSTIN ROSE: I'm excited. I'm really enjoying my golf. I think that I'm looking at it very long term. I'm looking at five years, really of what I can really achieve in the next five.

So the level of excitement in terms of this year is not heightened because of what's just happened. I think that what just happened in the last sort of six months or so has been due to my long-term approach and being excited about, you know, where I feel I can go and get with my game and I don't feel like I'm still -- I still think there's areas of improvement that can be made as I go through the season.

So I'm still sort of in the journey. I don't feel like, okay, now is the time to, having ticked all the boxes and perform, I still feel like I'm still ticking boxes every single week of getting better, but yeah, no doubt I'm excited about this year but the next few.

Q. And the major venues this year, how do they stack up for you, and what are you going to try this year at The Open to correct all the bizarre records?
JUSTIN ROSE: Nothing. I'm just going to play the odds that eventually the double-zero is going to hit.

I'm going to play the week before. I'm going to play The Scottish Open. I think that playing my way into The Open, it might be something I've done before and it's something I've enjoyed, but it might be something that just takes the spotlight off it for a little longer for me but still gets the links preparation done.

Carnoustie is a great venue. I think 1999 it was set up unfairly and got a reputation for being a real brute, but I think it's a fun golf course to play and it's actually a playable golf course. You know, we play in the Dunhill Links and it's scorable, and it will be somewhere in the middle for The Open Championship. It's a venue that I'm looking forward to.

Q. Shinnecock?
JUSTIN ROSE: Shinnecock, yeah, again, it's a course that I played in the U.S. Open way back when. Didn't enjoy it at all. Then I played it as the members play it in maybe 2013 or 2014, I went for a game there and loved it.

So kind of my excitement for Shinnecock is definitely -- and that whole part of the world, there's some great golf around there, National Golf Links, Sebonack. It's an area I've played a little bit of golf and I really, really enjoy the area and have got some friends in the area.

That's one I'm definitely going to prep for and spend a bit of time at Shinnecock and get to know it. I think we are going back to traditional a U.S. Open which is I'm excited about; I'm a fan of the even-par type model. Not every golf tournament, but certainly the U.S. Open, for me, is its identity, but has been for a long, long time; and for me, the 16-under model doesn't quite feel right.

So if you look at the run of U.S. Opens we have coming up now, they are back to the traditional tracks. So for me, I'm excited about that. A

Q. You played nine holes with Paul Casey yesterday. Your thoughts on him coming back to The European Tour?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, he seems to have a pep in his step. I think he really enjoyed last week. I think he enjoyed being around the guys. I think he enjoyed the team golf. He seemed very up for it last week, and obviously the EurAsia Cup is a big event.

I know where his mind is at and I know some of the motivations to join the Tour were to be part of The Ryder Cup Team and try to get The Ryder Cup back. So I think last week definitely whetted his appetite for that.

It's great for the Tour to have him. He's played such great golf, such consistent golf for the last couple of years, really good to have him back on board and he certainly strengthens the Tour and a potential Ryder Cup Team.

Q. Did you have a chat about him playing the British Masters later this year?
JUSTIN ROSE: You know, he likes to play hard to get but we'll see. He's a bit mad with me that I chose Walton Heath. He kind of feels like that's his stomping ground. Hopefully we can entice him to play.

Q. You played The Scottish Open at Gullane in 2015. Can you talk about the test there and how much you enjoyed that test?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, good golf course, absolutely. Up and down the hill, you know, but really enjoy it. I think just being in Scotland for two weeks, it's a nice part of the year. It's obviously great, traditional golf. It's good crowds. It's good fun and Scottish Open is a big event, Rolex Series event. So it's never a warmup, ever, but it kind of gets you in the mode of playing in the wind, seeing the right shots, just getting the feel of the bounce of the ball, is really, really important.

Q. What would you play in the run up to the Masters?
JUSTIN ROSE: Probably looking like México, MasterCard at Bay Hill, Houston, Augusta, and maybe I have scope to add one more depending on how I feel.

STEVE TODD: Good luck this week. Thanks for joining us.

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