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April 2, 2018
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Making his 13th appearance here at the Masters, we would like to welcome back two‑time runner‑up Justin Rose.
Justin, you started 2018 season with a win at the WGC in Shanghai, and you've had four top‑5s. Can you tell us about your preparations as you head into this year's Masters and including a trip I think you took here recently.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. So I guess being the first Major in about eight months, your preparation starts a lot sooner than the other Majors. Probably about a good six, eight weeks ago it starts creeping into your mind.
But I've been very happy with the way my game's been trending. I took a month off four, five weeks ago and with the hopes of being fresh and ready for this, and I played a nice run of golf since then. I played four of my last five weeks, so I feel certainly tournament sharp, and I've had some good results, like you say, been notching up a few Top‑5's, played well at Tampa, played well at Bay Hill and then skipped up right here after Bay Hill for two rounds, which it's always a pleasure to come up here.
People say you played the Masters 12 times, why do you still go up early for practice rounds? And I'm like why not? It's Augusta. You get a chance to play the course. So I always just love being up here, and you always do tend to learn a thing or two. And I think for me last year after losing in the playoff, it was just important just to come and walk the grounds. Clearly you're going to kind of go through memories and shots you hit and shots that didn't come off, et cetera, et cetera, so I just wanted to have that walk before tournament week.
THE MODERATOR: And you got a stellar record here at the Masters with five top‑10, obviously two runners‑up, and you also never missed a cut. Why does this course suit you so well?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think it's just one of those‑‑ it starts by just driving up Magnolia Lane and feeling good and having good energy and feeling good about the place. That sort of love affair started my very first Masters in 2003. So I had positive experiences here, so it's become a happy hunting ground.
And I think over the years as well I've really dedicated myself to amassing knowledge of the golf course, keeping notes and carrying those notes forward year on year and kind of just amassing a yardage book, I suppose, that has a lot of scenarios. And you learn the pin placements, I suppose, it's key around here and the strategy to them.
So, yeah, I just guess it's about really enjoying my time here and, two, having learned the golf course over the years.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What did you learn from that sort of walk‑through? What were the kind of things that you were getting out of your head from last year?
JUSTIN ROSE: Just what might have been. I think that was important. I think that was pretty much it. Hitting the putt on 18 thinking why didn't it break and those sorts of things and, you know, things I didn't really want to be doing tomorrow or Wednesday.
I really have positive and fond memories of last year. I hit a lot of great shots. I don't feel like it was a tournament that anybody lost, really, per se. It was great to be a part of a Sunday exciting back nine with birdies and eagles. It was just one of those situations where one guy was going to lose.
So I really‑‑ I don't feel bad about it whatsoever, but still, clearly, it's whenever you lose a playoff in a Major, it's one of those moments that you look back on and think what might have been.
Q. Curious if the two runner‑ups you had here, if you've watched either of those, replays of those, and if so, what did you maybe learn or take away, and if not, why not?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think I watched the 2015 a couple of times just because I really liked the way I was swinging the club. So a couple of times in the past I've gone back to it to think, okay, how is it looking, what was I doing differently there, why was I hitting the ball well. And that Sunday I was really‑‑ I finished four back of Jordan. Obviously he had a record‑setting performance being 18‑under. My score of 14‑under was good enough to win many championships here in the past, so I take a lot of confidence from that.
But there were a couple key moments in that round, too. I hit a great shot into 6 that kind of hit a foot short, rolled back down. So a birdie potentially turned into a bogey there and didn't up‑and‑down it from the front right at No. 8.
Just a couple really key momentum changes. But I felt like I was‑‑ even though I finished four back, I was really close there to being able to put a bit more pressure on Jordan on that occasion.
And to be honest last, year I haven't watched. There's no need really. I think that I did pretty much ‑‑ it was just a putt or two, making a key putt or two down the stretch. I did everything right, did everything well last year. Just to win a championship you need to make a key putt at the right time, and that's what didn't happen last year.
Q. Coming in, this year, you're one of those clear favorites. Have you relished that role that everyone seems to be thinking it is your year after what happened last year?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I got sort of two thoughts on that really. One is that the golf course doesn't recognize what happened last year. There's not a blade of grass that's here that was here last year. It's kind of an analogy that I'm going with a little bit. I'm kind of coming in with high confidence but also low expectation, in the sense that I can't control so many variables that are going to be out there this week.
But, again, my skill set should produce a chance to win if all goes well. So I'm kind of going in with I need to execute really well this week to have a chance. There's no point in talking. It's just about, like I said, a good game plan around here. It's going to come down to whether I can just really clearly execute all week.
So that's where my mindset is really. Not worried about the other players or the other variables. But, yeah, I'm coming in as playing as good as I've ever played, so I'm excited about that.
Q. Can I ask you about Poulter. You know him better than most. Does anything he does surprise you anymore?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, not really. It was a really fun week for me last week. I got the chance to play with him on Saturday. I haven't played with him for along long time. Maybe Ryder Cup was last time I played with him on a golf course in a meaningful round. Not even sure we played practice rounds together in a long time.
But he came around for dinner on Friday night, so before we played on Saturday. So it was really good to just catch up with him, catch up with news and life and all that sort of stuff.
Then, yeah, playing with him on Saturday, I was impressed with his game. He's been telling me for a while that he's been playing well and just the putter just hasn't been quite his best friend. But we all know clearly when he gets going with the putter, it's fun to watch.
I love his reactions. I mean, on Sunday, that putt on 18, I was actually just landing, and we lost Wi‑Fi as we were coming into land, so at the critical moment. I hadn't quite figured out what happened. And then saw the replay, and it was like classic Poulter, yeah. Pleased for him.
Q. You didn't have‑‑ probably the summer you had last year, you didn't have a good one. Was it any chance it was a hangover from this and tough to get over, or was it your health?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I would say twofold. I think the month or two after this‑‑ well, the two weeks after this I didn't really want to play golf. I kind of was licking my wounds a little bit. And I think any time you don't play golf for a couple of weeks, you come out a little sluggish. So I think maybe that the few weeks after the Masters was a little bit to do with that.
But then to be honest, from the BMW PGA on the European Tour onwards, I kind of kept getting a little niggly pain in my lower right side of my back, and I kind of attributed to a couple of things that I was doing in my swing potentially. And between Sean and my trainers, we made an adjustment to my golf swing. So I think that the summer, around The Open Championship, around the U.S. PGA, it was more to do with learning some new moves with the golf swing, to be honest with you, more than what happened here at Augusta.
But there's no doubt for a month or so after this, yeah, it becomes like a bit of a motivation thing. It just takes‑‑ occasionally. It may not, it should or shouldn't, you just don't know how those things affect you. It took me a month to kind of find that motivation again.
Q. Your recent column you wrote, I don't think I've got anything to prove to anybody but what I achieve in the next five years is going to determine my legacy in the game, so what would you like your legacy to be and how important is the Masters in winning the Masters as part of that?
JUSTIN ROSE: Fooch asked me a great question last year during the practice round walking down 10. He said, if you had the opportunity to wipe the slate clean with all you achieved in the game and have another crack at it, would you do it? Because there were a few years I potentially underachieved. But given what I‑‑ and given other guys' careers and how talented players are who never break through in Majors, this and that, I kind of thought to myself: I had some really special moments in my career. I'm not sure I would just throw that all away and say, right, okay, I'm going to go again. So I'm‑‑ so what I mean by I think I proved that I've won at the highest level, I don't have anything to prove to anybody. But, yeah, I think how I'm going to be remembered in the game is really now what happens from here onwards. So I had a great career, but there's difference between a great career and a whether it be a special career or a Hall of Fame career, all that type of stuff.
And I think that's kind of the point I'm at in my career, is that if I go on to achieve some other really big championships, Major Championships, from this point on, then my career certainly looks a lot‑‑ it becomes more a special career than a great career.
Q. You talked about taking notes in detail every time you come back. Are they‑‑ how often do you see things that surprise you even though you've been coming here all year and you update your notes that way? And also there's been a lot of talk over the years about lengthening the 13th. What would you think about, boy, that's a good idea or not?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I typically always come here and you get a local caddie that is sort of accompanies you for the day, so you're always getting their view on the golf course, and I think that that's kind of where you pick up the occasional sort of tidbit of information. I always used to lay up on the 15th hole further back and to the right, and I kind of was hitting a couple shots from there. And he said, man, my man would fire me if I laid him up here. So I said, okay, interesting. He was always more way down to the left. There's a bit more of a flat spot. So I took notice of that, started to hit a few shots from there, I preferred it.
There's just‑‑ the 7th green there's a couple of sprinkler heads that used to be there that aren't there any longer from what I noticed. That was kind of the point in the green where everything went left‑to‑right and right‑to‑left. So just little things like that you pick up from the caddies, and I think those are very useful.
The second part was?
Q. 13th hole. They talked about lengthening it.
JUSTIN ROSE: You know, I think for me it's a really fun golf hole, obviously. I think on Sunday last year we saw Sergio hit it left. I mean, a championship can really pivot on that hole for sure, and I think that's what makes the back nine here exciting. If it goes too far back and then you have to definitely play too far right, it might take some of the risk out of it.
I think right now it's very tempting to try and cover the trees or carry the trees or really turn it around the corner to get 7‑iron in your hand. So that, yeah, that would be my view on it.
I think I've often not gone for that green ‑‑ I only go for that green if I have 4‑iron or less. I think if I have 5‑wood or 3‑iron or 2‑iron or shots like that, I think that just from past experience the risk begins to outweigh the reward.
Q. The rich vein of form that you're in, how much of it is due to an improvement in your putting?
JUSTIN ROSE: I would say the consistency of let's just say the top‑10s that I've been having I think are probably 90 percent due to the putting. I always hit the ball well. Whenever I putt well, I tend to contend and challenge for the lead.
I didn't think that‑‑ I didn't putt well last week, actually, but until that point I was fifth I think in putting this year, which I'm not sure I've ever cracked the top hundred to be honest. So it's a big improvement. That's definitely what I've been striving for.
The last couple of years now I would say that I've simplified my putting a lot. And that can only help when you're playing under pressure, is to have less thoughts going on in your mind or on the greens.
Q. Simplifying it, or just could you explain on that a little bit?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, so I went to the claw method of putting, and it just kind of takes away some of the feel almost for me. When I have traditional stroke, I really feel like I sense every little move of my wrist and hands and I kind of nitpick my stroke too much. If I push one, pull one, I'm always second‑guessing myself a little bit, whereas now I feel a little bit more locked in.
Q. There's a sense of anticipation that this could be one of the most exciting Masters tournaments in years. So many great players, yourself included, are peaking at just the right time. So many compelling narratives could play out. How do you see it?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, yeah, absolutely. Listen, Rory searching for the Grand Slam, this is always going to be an exciting tournament for him, but showing some form coming in here, that's a great story line. There's someone else playing quite well again, which is good for the game.
Obviously when Tiger walked onto the range today, you can tell there's an anticipation and an excitement from the crowd to watch him compete again. Yeah, a lot of‑‑ so many guys playing good golf. Jordan I think‑‑ I mean, the way I think Jordan played tee to green last week, I'm sure he's probably never played better. Looking at his stats, it was incredible that he was minus three or four in putting and challenged to win the Tournament.
So, yeah, there's a lot of guys on good form, and there's no point in me mentioning them all. So there's a ton of story lines.
For me personally this week, high confidence, low expectation because there's so many scenarios that could play out.
Q. You hear it said many times around here, that it's important to know where to miss, certain shots and so forth. Do you subscribe to that, and how much does that help you when you don't quite have control of the golf ball maybe the way you want to?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I was kind of just overhearing Phil talking to Russell Henley last week, actually, and that's what he was talking about. He says that knowing the course as he does, he feels like it's an easy course to get the ball up‑and‑down provided he misses in the correct spot. That's obviously Phil talking with Phil's short game.
I mean, it's never easy to get the ball up‑and‑down here, but clearly he knows the course better than most. So you hear guys talk like that, there's obviously a bit of a way to play the golf course. And for me though you're going to have to play aggressively here. Even if you're hitting a safe shot, you have to play aggressively to that spot. If you think ‑‑ if you take your‑‑ if you let your guard down for a second because you think you're hitting a safe shot here, you end up making more of a mistake than trying to hit an aggressive shot.
So for me it's about always commitment and playing positively, no matter where you're aiming.
Q. To follow up on that, I understand the concept and the idea, but if you're not playing well, how do you know you can even miss to the right spot?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, that's‑‑ it's about just choosing good lines, creating the most margin for error on a miss. I think that for me no missed golf shot's ever going to be a good shot, but it's just making smart decisions to know what the parameters are you're dealing with. If you can just cheat your line five yards to give yourself half a chance if you were to hit a poor shot, I think that's what it's all about. It's not really ever hitting a poor shot to the‑‑ to a place you can get it up‑and‑down, it's about just choosing a line that gives you more percentage chance of landing up in an okay spot.
Q. The stats guys at the Golf Channel have got some amazing stats for you at the Masters. Most birdies, eagles since 2012, best greens in regulation percentage, best par‑5 score, best par‑4, best score under par since 2011. First?
JUSTIN ROSE: Where's my jacket?
Q. First of all, were you aware that those stats were that good? And if not, what does it mean to you to hear them now? How much confidence does that give you going forward this week?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I mean, I've been aware that I've played well here for sure, and I think I remember‑‑ actually, it was 2015, I remember someone saying you had more birdies than anyone else in a Masters than‑‑ maybe I tied Phil or something.
But I've been aware that there's been some good stats going on, but just for some reason the range hereI just‑‑ for some reason I hit the ball really well when I get on that range, and I think it's just a place I've tended to play well.
It's an energy thing as well. I feel like I put a lot of work into being ready for this tournament. I don't just come here by accident and play well. There's a month or two of preparation to do it. It's not always going to just happen, but like I said, there's a lot of decisions that are made for a long time before this week just rolls around.
So it's nice to get the reward, like those statistics are a reward. And for me I always said I don't have to win it this year, I don't have to win it next year, but I would love to win it. If I keep doing that, then chances are going to continue to present themselves.
Q. Apologies for making this the Ian Poulter press conference, but you played alongside him in the Ryder Cup context. What do you get off that energy? And if he makes it, what will he bring to this year's competition?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, he'll strengthen our team for sure. He strengthens it in a vice captain's role. But I know he would rather be there than not be there, but as a vice captain's role I think it's torture for him. He's a guy who wants to control the outcome. When there's a point on the line, as we could see yesterday, he delivers more often than not.
And France is a perfect golf course for Ian as well. I think that he will be tough to beat around there. I'm really excited to see him put some points on the board.
Q. To go back to that conversation you had with Fooch, just along those lines, curious, if you could have one shot back from last year, what would it be?
JUSTIN ROSE: I'm not sure I would have the shot back, because I loved the shot, but the result on 13. I hit such a good‑looking second shot. We were only an iron between 6‑iron and 7‑iron, and we went with the 6‑iron, and I hit a really great shot right on the line that I was looking for, and I was playing for that ridge right behind the hole and kind of felt like it would come back down to six or eight feet, and it just took one bounce, firm, up onto the top and trickled over the back where I kind of was able‑‑ unable to get the ball up‑and‑down. I had a six, eight‑footer I think for birdie that I didn't make.
But that shot for me was‑‑ especially with Sergio in a little bit of trouble was a potential‑‑ kind of the first nail, anyway. So I think probably that one.
Q. Along those lines, were you surprised when Sergio named his child after the 13th hole?
JUSTIN ROSE: I would have done it, too, probably. I played there. He did well to find his ball in there let alone make par.
So, yeah, I think it's a great name for obviously a wonderful memory for him.
THE MODERATOR: Well, Justin, we wish you all the best this week.
JUSTIN ROSE: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports