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May 10, 2018

Justin Rose

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

Q. Sum up the day.
JUSTIN ROSE: Good start. Obviously dream start really opening up with birdie, birdie, eagle, 3-under through 3. Didn't make much of it from that moment on, I think three bogeys is probably what halted a great round. But still not easy out there to keep a clean sheet. Wind was not non-existent but it was just enough where it was moving around for the first three, four -- well first three hours of our round -- and you can just feel now it's beginning to pick up and find its position and it's a little bit out of the northeast. So the leaders, well the afternoon wave are going to have maybe a little harder time, but you expect that playing here near the beach. Winds will pick up in the afternoon. But, yeah, very happy with the opening 68.

Q. Is that your best start here?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think Fooch say I shot a bogey-free 65 in not too long ago around here. I couldn't remember and he said I didn't want to remember what happened on Friday, so.

Q. You finished fourth that year.
JUSTIN ROSE: Is that right? I could be wrong. But that's one of my blessings is the fact that I have no memory. It's wiped like water off a duck's back.

Q. Talk through that shot there on 12.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, obviously 12, it's a fun little hole, risk-reward hole, normally if you make eagle you think you're going to have a crack at the green. But I liked where the pin was today, it was back left, which is an inviting tee shot, if you -- because you feel like you can miss the tee shot right if you go for the green, but there's a really tough slope that's about six, eight feet to the right of the pin that makes chipping to that pin incredibly difficult and very inviting for a wedge shot. And I knew that I could put the wedge in there just a little bit to the right of the pin and let it spin down. As it happened I hit my wedge straight at it and it took one bounce, checked and went in. But I had 98, I think it was, 98 yards, but that was the reason I chose to lay up is because I liked where the pin placement was for a wedge.

Q. See more guys going for it this year after they softened it up?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I didn't notice the softening but when someone explained what they had done I could see it, but it wasn't apparent to me. I don't think it's going to make a huge difference. There's little bit of rough that I think if you hit a good shot and it just trickles off it may stay up, but if you get anything left it's gone. I feel like if I can play that hole in 18 for the week, I'm going to be very happy and going for it, I'm not sure I'm going to do much better than 18 and laying up I'm not sure I'm going to do a ton worse than 18. So I'm pretty -- it's tempting, it's the kind of hole that I think if you're in contention you may eliminate the risk and if you're trying to press a little bit you might go for something.

Q. Did you think about the world No. 1 out there at all?
JUSTIN ROSE: Not after Dustin got 4-, 5-, 6-under. I thought I better play well this week to not go miles behind him again. Actually I thought about that, but obviously it's all well and good talking about it, but if he wins then he's off and gone again. So that's the thing, it's a little bit about timing, when you play well and what other guys are doing, but no, I was just trying to focus obviously on my round.

Q. How formidable has he been at the No. 1 and how meaningful is it for the next guy to take it from him?
JUSTIN ROSE: I've seen a trend with the World Rankings I've seen the top five, six, seven players earning more points than ever before. I got to world No. 3 averaging seven points, 7.5 now and at seven points I wouldn't be in the top eight I think at the moment and I think six, certainly. So there's more guys playing good golf at the moment than a few years ago. It's very strong at the top. Dustin has a lot of challengers, but to fend them off for, he's been there for, what? Over a year now, is it? 15 months. Any time you're -- that's pretty undisputed world No. 1 if you can do it for over a year. So the next guy in I would imagine obviously will be delighted, but I think there could be a little of tooing and froing for the next sort of six months or so with how many guys have the opportunity this week.

Q. The guys that you know well and also a bit of history with, was it a fun group?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it was a fun group. I was alerted by the TOUR maybe last week some time that they were thinking about that group and yeah it was exciting to hear it. I played with Poults in Houston and he's playing really well, it's good to see him playing well. I didn't play particularly well that day so it was nice to play a little bit better in front of him. And Tommy I always love playing with him. I love the way he hits his iron shots, love his sort of curtailed finish, so that's something I always try to imagine myself doing a little bit. So he's a guy I can feed off too -- and I like the way he putts it as well. So yeah there's certain guys you can work your game off and I played enough golf with Poults that I can club off him a little bit, so it was a comfortable pairing.

Q. Do you recall a three ball of Englishmen ever here before?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, I don't think so. No. It's nice they did it.

Q. Tommy was talking just now about you and very complimentary about your ball striking and so on but he said the thing that sometimes passes some people by is how good your short game is.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I've always had a really good short game for sure. Spent a left time actually the last week or so really working on it, just freshening it up. I got into a few bad habits I would say leading into Augusta and I think a lot of it was I went to a 64 degree wedge and that kind of -- technically, I started to lean the shaft too much, I didn't like where it was at. And that showed up a little bit in New Orleans, I hit a couple chip shots that were a little dicey. So I worked on it last week and especially knowing I was coming to Bermuda this week, which is a grass that's very unforgiving with the chipping. So I was very happy with how it sort of has performed this week so far.

Q. And that chip on the 7th, talk about that.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, so I missed it in an awful spot. You couldn't -- to miss the 8-iron there was terrible -- but I had no option to land it on the green. I struck it beautifully off the, out of that bowl and I hit it with spin and then landed it into the green cut kind of liked like softened the bounce and then just trickled down over the top and that was a nice save.

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