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June 13, 2018
Southampton, New York
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Welcome again to the 118th U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. It is my pleasure to welcome this afternoon the 2013 U.S. Open Champion, Justin Rose. Justin won his championship at Merion Golf Club five years ago now.
JUSTIN ROSE: Doesn't feel like it.
THE MODERATOR: It actually seems quite like yesterday. In fact, you're playing in your 13th U.S. Open this week, your second at Shinnecock. You played in 2004, where you missed the cut.
Can you talk about your reflections of that week and also coming back and your preparations for this week's championship?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. Obviously, it's exciting to be back at a U.S. Open. It doesn't feel like five years ago since we were lifting the trophy.
Really excited about Shinnecock this week. I did play in 2004, didn't have the fondest of memories of the place, but that actually changed, I think it was 2013 -- no, 2012, I believe it was, that I came back here and just played with a couple of members and saw the course more width-wise as we're seeing this week, and it completely changed my impression of the whole golf course.
It went from being not a very fun experience to actually, wow, now I see why it's one of the top rated golf courses in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
So I came here with a changed approach, I suppose, and an attitude towards the place, and I've really enjoyed my practice.
I did what I usually do. I came here last week, spent some days here when it was nice and quiet, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I think it's the best time to learn a golf course. There's a lot to learn out here. Well, there's a lot to learn, but it kind of boils down to hit it in the middle of the green, and that's easier said than done on this golf course.
But it's a fun golf course to learn. Obviously, there's a lot of severe places where the run-offs take the ball a long way away from the pin, but, yeah, I think there's room to play it, which I think is going to be fun for everybody this week.
THE MODERATOR: And playing very well lately. You won in Ft. Worth, and a top ten finish at the Memorial. Just talk about your form and how you feel coming into this week.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. I think for the most part, the consistency has been great all year. We always measure things in wins, so it was great to get over the finish line there.
It was nice to play very strong golf on the weekend at Ft. Worth. It was nice to finish off with a 64 on Sunday. When my game was tested, it was still holding up pretty well.
I had a little run. I felt like I had a good opportunity at the Memorial just to go back to back. Unfortunately, I didn't play that well on the weekend, but was still in touch really with a few holes to go.
Coming in here off a little break to freshen up. That's what you need to be at a U.S. Open. You need to be mentally fresh. I feel like I've done a good job with that the last week.
Q. You were a pretty accomplished player prior to breaking through at Merion. I just wonder, did you put pressure on yourself to kind of get that first Major leading into that?
Where I'm going with this is Rickie Fowler has come so close a bunch of times now. I just wonder what you think of his game, and would it be surprising to you to see him walk away without a Major before it's over?
JUSTIN ROSE: So I felt like I came into the U.S. Open in 2013, the No. 5 player in the world, I think, at the time. When you get to that level of the game, you think, okay, you're going to have chances to win Majors. You're going to put yourself on Major championship leaderboards.
And I try to look at it, I think I was 30 -- 33 when I won at Merion. But I think my approach was -- I think, when I turned 30, I thought, okay, between 30 and 40, those are going to be my -- now I'm thinking 45. I'm stretching it out a bit.
But between 30 and 40, that's going to be my opportunity to go really out and get things done. That's 40 Major championships. I'm going to create chances with those 40. I'm going to be on leaderboards.
I think what happened to me at Merion, I also realized I'm going to win Majors, and I'm also going to lose Majors. You can't skip through your career without one or two slipping through the net. It's a by-product of being on the leaderboard that those things happen.
So I wasn't scared of losing, and that helped me win my first Major championship. I wasn't shying away from the pressure of trying to win my first Major.
I understood that, in my career when I look back ten years down the line, there were going to be opportunities that present themselves and opportunities that slipped away. So ideally, in your career, you grasp more than slip away, right? But it's a by-product of being a good player and being on the leaderboard that both things are going to happen.
I would say with regards to Rickie, he's creating those opportunities. He played plenty well enough at the Masters that it could have been his year. He will let one or two go in the future. He's going to be on the leaderboard for a long, long time, and I'm sure things are going to line up for him more than once.
Q. Justin, I know you said you measure things with wins, and I understand that. Where does becoming World No. 1 rank in that scenario, if at all?
JUSTIN ROSE: I'm in the great position where world ranking, becoming World No. 1 is going to be a by-product of winning this week. So I may as well just continue to focus on the winning. That's where the points are. That's where the fun is, to be honest with you.
So I couldn't think of a better scenario than to win a Major, to win a golf tournament, and to become World No. 1.
There are scenarios that -- you know, Memorial was an interesting one. I could have finished second there and become World No. 1. So it's nicer to keep focus on the winning. It keeps things cleaner mentally. It keeps things simple.
I don't know where any scenarios are this week. All I'm focusing on is, for me, winning Major championships has been my dream as a kid. A World No. 1 is a really cool thing to say at some point in your career, but it's not my primary focus. My primary focus is winning the tournaments that will get me there.
Q. Justin, where would you put confidence levels going into a Major? Where would you put this one?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, just generally, I feel confident for sure. I feel comfortable with my game. I feel comfortable with my mindset. I feel like I'm not really chasing my game. Maybe this time last year I was going through the middle of some changes. You always try to convince yourself that things are in good shape.
I think that I've just had a nice, quiet six, eight months where I've been working on the same thing. So I come into each tournament not overworking to try to find my best golf so I can focus on more of the strategy and the short game and things that actually do tend to churn out the wins.
So I've been able to focus on the scoring elements of my game a bit more, and same this week. I felt like I haven't had to do too much heavy lifting this week. I haven't had to over think the golf course. I think I've got a good strategy, and I think my game is capable of executing that strategy, more importantly. I think going out there with a plan really helps the confidence.
Q. The British bookies have you second favorite. They rate you even higher than Rory. How does that make you feel?
JUSTIN ROSE: Ooh.
Well, it's news to me so I'm clearly not really paying -- I know Futch (phonetic) will be looking at the odds.
Q. He told me.
JUSTIN ROSE: Futch told you. I think probably it's about right. I've been playing well. I've been playing solid golf. I've been on the leaderboard a lot. I'm comfortable with it. I'm No. 3 in the world, past champion here. It makes sense to me.
Does that mean it's easy to win? No. But the golf course doesn't know I'm second favorite, and that's kind of how I try to approach these things. I've got to go and build a body of work. I don't start this tournament ahead of anybody or behind anybody.
So I think that's the way I look at it, just trust my game, my skill set, and hopefully it produces.
Q. Two things, Justin. If the USGA is a reactionary group, which many players think they are, do you think they're more inclined to go easy on you guys because of what happened at Shinnecock last time or go harder on you guys because of the low scoring at Erin Hills last year?
JUSTIN ROSE: You know what, I think, when everything's in balance, it's kind of boring. And I think in life, the closer you get to the edges, that's where the excitement is.
So I would say the USGA is not reactionary; it's counterbalancing. So if you go too far one way, you've got to come back the other way. You don't want to fall off the edge, as occasionally they may have or people may have in life.
So to get to the interesting part, you've got to kind of look over the edge. So I think it's all fair and great, and I'm sure there's one eye on exactly where that edge is for sure, based on '04.
So I think, yes, I think there will be strategies in place this week that things don't happen on certain greens that we've seen in the past. That's not reactionary, that's just intelligent, you know.
Q. Secondly, aside from you winning, how would you determine if this was a great championship, a great Major? What makes it a great championship?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think --
Q. I just didn't want you to say me winning, so let's move on.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, sure, sure. I think an underdog, a group of varied people, a bunch of people being in the mix. You need some great players in the mix. You need some great story lines. Let's say Phil grand slam, let's say Tiger having a chance to win, those types of story lines are going to captivate people.
And a guy that's a surprise, that's going to be cool. And then basically just a good test of golf, where people think, wow, they've really stepped up and played great golf under pressure. I think that's what people would like to see in this tournament is that guys are tested to the ends of their ability, to whether they can cope or not, and I think that's part of the charm of this -- or not charm, but part of the allure of this tournament.
Q. Justin, your game is very consistent. Did you make any drastic changes consciously to keep you going to this direction? If you can share it with us.
JUSTIN ROSE: You know, no conscious changes. Well, a year ago I was still continuing to have little twinges with my back and stuff like that. So although my swing was looking pretty and looking pretty good on camera, we did seek out some advice and went down a bit of a biomechanics route to see if there's anything a little deeper going on that sometime the eye can't see so clearly.
I think Sean and my team and my physios and my trainers have done a great job making a slight shift in my golf swing, but I wouldn't really attribute that to why I'm playing better.
I would just say I feel like I'm putting much better this year as well. That obviously really, really helps things. I think my stats have been greatly improved, and I think that, when you putt well, I've always been a pretty good ball striker. It's given me opportunities. I'm now taking more of those opportunities with the putter. So whether that be more wins or top fives, top tens, I think a lot of it comes down to that.
But I think that I've been very quiet with my strategy and my blueprint and my game. I'm able to focus a lot more on my scoring clubs, the chipping and the putting. I just have a really nice framework that I'm working off of. Every week feels consistent in terms of what I'm working on.
Q. Given your focus on Majors now, how does the Ryder Cup figure into that, or does it?
JUSTIN ROSE: For me, the Ryder Cup, I feel like I'm in the team. I've made enough points. So it's on my mind. I'm always looking at how the team is shaping up, but I'm not really paying much attention on it personally just yet.
I think that, for me, it shifts into gear through the FedExCup. I feel like that's when the crowds start getting really interested in it. You start hearing a lot of comments on the golf course about the Ryder Cup. So the anticipation builds for me more in August.
I think that everyone's mind is on the job right now. I think this is Major championship season that we're in, and I think now through the PGA Championship, Ryder Cup is a nonfactor. But right after PGA Championship all through FedExCup, obviously, that gets a lot of our attention too.
Everything happens so quickly towards the end of the year. It's tough to take a breath really. There's a big tournament, a big championship every week. But from a crowd's point of view, which is where we feed off a lot of their energy, you start to hear a lot of chirps and comments around playoff time.
Q. Justin, I saw some stats coming in that you're 109 under par for the 11 events this year, second on scoring average. What have you got in spades now that you didn't have in 2004?
JUSTIN ROSE: Gray hairs, experience. Probably belief in myself as well, more than anything else. Yeah, just really every part of my game has just matured and developed and has become more robust, I think, to be honest with you.
I feel like I don't have to rely upon one part of my game every week. I think there's areas of my game that can always bail me out. Some week it could be my putting, chipping, iron play, great off the tee. I do it all. It's just a matter of whether I do it the right week or at the right time. Just more options, I guess.
Q. Justin, with the possible exception of Rory running away with it in 2011, is the U.S. Open more about hanging around in contention to be there on the last nine holes on a Sunday?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think so. I think that's what it's about. I think it's about who can last and who can handle the continual pressure and the stress this championship puts on your game. I like the even par mentality, I really do.
I think each tournament should have its own character and personality, and this one is about who can last, who can tough it out. I'm a big fan of that.
Thirty-two weeks a year, maybe not, but in terms of what we're here for and the purpose of this event and trying to find the best champion in the week and then that champion to be tested and have every aspect of their game tested, including their mental game, I think that's a pretty good test, and it makes this tournament what it is in my opinion.
Q. Kind of following up on that question, you've embraced the idea that this championship is a brutal test. Did you have to work on that? Did that come naturally, or did you have to work on that mindset?
JUSTIN ROSE: That's a great question. I think that, because it's once a year, I think you accept it. I think you have to work your game to be able to handle it. I think, if your game isn't ready for this type of test, then it can be overwhelming. It can become -- yeah, it becomes a challenge. Too much of a challenge at times, for sure.
But I think, though, the more you embrace it, the more you -- I don't want to put a number, even par, right? I think the key to this championship is testing every element of everybody's game or every department of everybody's game, but still making it playable, still making a player feel like they can hit great shots and play great golf.
I think that that is sort of the mindset that I've begun to play my way into. Rather than just purely trying to hang around and not make mistakes, I think it's about still trying to play great golf.
I think that Doug's question earlier of what makes a great championship is an event that still enables the best players in the world to play great golf. Maybe that's where my mindset has shifted into the past few years, or hopefully since I've won it. But you've got to play great golf to win this tournament. You can't just survive.
Q. How much will this weather help you on Thursday and Friday?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think this weather is going to be definitely -- I hope it's going to be a big help in the morning. I play at 7:30 tomorrow morning. It might be a sneaky amount of rain. It might add up. But it feels like it's very light right now, but coming in sort of waves.
I don't think the total amount of rainfall is going to be changing the course, changing the nature of this golf course for the week, but I think maybe tomorrow morning and into tomorrow afternoon, it's going to keep it somewhat at bay.
But I think Friday, Saturday, Sunday with the forecast, by the time we get to Sunday, this is not going to be an issue whatsoever. But I think with my tee time tomorrow morning, I'm thinking this could be a good thing.
Q. Hi, Justin. You mentioned your age. You'll be 38 next month. You're sort of in this big picture, in the middle with sort of the old guard with Phil, and Tiger is a little ahead of you, and you've got this younger group of guys as well.
I was wondering, you look at the landscape of golf right now -- and we've talked about winning Majors -- so many are capable of winning Majors right now. I wonder if you could evaluate that at this point and stage of your career.
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, hopefully, I'm in the sweet spot. I feel like I'd like to have that little bit of an old school approach where guys tend to mature into their 30s. We have seen that shift in the last ten years or so, and that could be the Tiger factor now kicking in. He's been out here 20-plus years. So we've seen the kids that were very impressionable watching him go through his best spells, that we're seeing the by-product of that now.
So it has shifted younger, but I feel like experience and all of those great attributes that have historically held players in good stead and allowed them to win Majors into their 30s, that still is incredibly valuable. That's never going to go away.
I think players like myself and Adam Scott and Sergio, the '80s babies, we're all pretty much a similar age. We're that generation that's somewhat in the middle. I think we're still fit, healthy, still hit the ball a long way, still have all the attributes the young players have, and just with added experience. These types of championships are hopefully some of our best shots, to be honest with you.
THE MODERATOR: 2013 U.S. Open Champion Justin Rose, always a pleasure. Thanks for being with us. We wish you well this week.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports