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July 17, 2018
Angus, Scotland, United Kingdom
STUART MOFFATT: We'll make a start. Delighted to say we're joined by Justin Rose in the interview room.
Justin, it's just been over 25 years since an Englishman last won The Open. Do you think you're the one that end that barren run and lift the Claret Jug on Sunday?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yes. Obviously, it has been a barren run for sure. I don't believe in superstition or anything like that, but I just feel like my game is in a good spot. I feel like I'm playing well and creating chances regularly. So, yeah, it's up to me, really. Not stats or not records. It's just about me and playing this golf course this week and creating my chance to win. I try not to look outside any deeper than that.
Q. Hi, Justin. A lot of people are fancying you this week. You said yourself that you might well win it. What level of expectation do you put on yourself, and how much pressure do you put on yourself in these situations at a major?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, you try not -- I don't mind expectation. I feel like you've got to be a big boy, and you've got to be able to handle that. If you want to play at the top level, that's what you've got to live with. I've got no problem with that.
I think the self-inflicted pressure -- you know, to win a tournament, you want to stay as free as possible, as loose as possible. You want to try to keep it as simple as possible as well because that's when your best golf tends to come out. So Thursday halfway through Sunday, that's kind of the mindset, and you've got to click into, right, now's the time. Now's the opportunity. Then it's about finishing it off.
So for me, these next few days, it's about just really trying to get 100 -- just get as comfortable with my game as possible. I don't feel it needs to be perfect by any means. I think that's what I've learned over the years, many years where you're preparing for majors, I felt like everything had to be absolutely spot on to do well. U.S. Open was a good example of that. I wasn't really on my best form but teed off on Sunday with a chance.
So, yeah, be patient with myself this week as well. But, yeah, I expect to create an opportunity at some point this week. I guess that's the self-belief that I have at the moment, and I'm happy with that. I feel comfortable with that.
Q. Justin, obviously, playing a links course, it's different than playing some of the courses on the PGA Tour and whatnot, and players have to adjust during their practise this week, but given how dry and how fast and firm the course is playing, is practise this week different? Do you think you actually have to practise this specific course a lot more than you would, say, another major championship venue?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, I think this style of golf, yeah. I think I was up here two weeks ago playing. I spent three days up here. We played in virtually no wind and in 30 degrees heat. So I kind of felt like it was a very neutral look at the golf course. I think we're looking again at more of that regular westerly breeze. This course, I think, plays best in.
So I think the practise rounds today and tomorrow are going to be very beneficial for what we're going to face tournament days. So, yeah, it will be quite -- well, not easy, but you'll have a good -- when the wind is switching every day, a links course can play so completely opposite. You can be hitting 3 irons off a tee one day and drive a 3 iron into the green the next day. But I feel like we're going to get a good look at it all week. It's going to play one way, so guys are going to get comfortable with that strategy. Obviously, that's the big question right now what that strategy is, and I haven't formulated mine 100 percent as of yet.
There are going to be opportunities to hit driver. Maybe an exception is that fairway from 200 is as difficult as rough from 90 yards. So that's going to be -- it could be very much pin placement-dependent day to day, where it creates the best angle. So, yeah, obviously, playing the Scottish Open last week I think was very valuable as well because I had a scorecard in my hand for four days playing the kind of golf we're going to face this week. It was as dry at Gullane as it is here. So it was great preparation last week in terms of this style of golf.
Q. Hi, Justin. On a scale of 1 to 10 compared to the other courses on the rotation, how difficult would you say Carnoustie is? And without wishing to second guess your answer, why is it so tough?
JUSTIN ROSE: I'd say it's a 6, 7. I like this golf course. I think it's a fair golf course. I don't see it as tough. I see it as all links golf courses are tough, but it's -- I don't feel like it's much tougher than Birkdale, Muirfield, or Turnberry and this. Those four might be amongst my favourites because I see them as very fair venues.
For me here, you know, you have to hit shots. There are certain creeks and hazards you need to avoid. You can't always just rely on a bit of luck to get the ball up on the green. You have to hit some quality shots here. But I think especially with where the rough is and how burnt out it is right now, it's as fair as we've ever seen it. '99, it got a reputation for being incredibly tough because of the setup. You can make any golf course as tough as you want if it's set up like that.
But I think this week we're going to see good scores. I think it's going to be the perfect test. If you're playing well, you can score around here.
Q. Justin, when you turn up at The Open each year, everyone talks about this could be your year. Do you kind of get a sense that you have to battle this sense of history? Do you also have to battle this sense of anticipation that you could be world No. 1 if you win this week? And those are kind of two of the obstacles you have to get over.
Also, you said you're not superstitious --
JUSTIN ROSE: Third obstacle, perfect. Put another one up there.
Q. Just when you said you're not superstitious, do you have any kind of prematch rituals or anything at all that you do?
JUSTIN ROSE: I don't. I have strong pre-round routines that are important to me. Going to the gym, doing my stretching, putting, chipping, going to the range, all that kind of stuff. But that's just more routine that helps players week to week, so you can kind of click into the focus.
In terms of getting to world No. 1, I've really said that I want to get to world No. 1 by winning golf tournaments. There could be opportunities in the next six months. I could get there by finishing seventh somewhere because there's always permutations. I want to get to world No. 1 by winning, and that keeps my goal simple. Yeah, I want to win The Open, no doubt about it.
Obviously, I'm kind of comfortable with how bad my record's been here. I don't feel like -- it's nothing new to me, and I don't feel like there's a reason for it either.
I feel like I've created some better opportunities in The Open than my record suggests. So I kind of come in here knowing that I can play links golf really, really well even though maybe I haven't threatened in this tournament as much as I would have liked, but I've won the Scottish Open and played well at Dunhill Links and played well on these type of golf courses. So I've come in here as confident as I could be, to be honest with you.
Q. Justin, your best Open Championship came here at Carnoustie back in 2007. I think you were tied for 12th. How much confidence does that give you going into this week here at Carnoustie?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it's always nice to have played solidly here. In recent years, I think I finished a bit better than that at St. Andrews, maybe in '15, I guess it was. Yeah, that was a year that I played solidly in all the major championships. I think I was top 12 in all four that year. So absolutely, it's a golf course that -- in the Dunhill Links, I've got to say, I've gotten to know it. I haven't played that tournament a great deal in recent years, but it was a course that I always came to and believed I could -- sometimes you feel you've got to make your score at St. Andrews or at Dunhill Links or you've got to make your score at Kingsbarns. I always felt like I could play really well around here, too, and it took the pressure off playing at the other two venues.
So I've always come to Carnoustie thinking it's a golf course I enjoy playing and can do well at.
Q. Obviously, you burst on the scene in '98 at Royal Birkdale and one of our local amateurs Sam Locke at 19 plays in his first major this week. Based on your experience, what do you think he'll learn this week, and how has your experience at your first Open shaped your career?
JUSTIN ROSE: Obviously, I wish him a great week. Obviously I think it's eye opening just being here, and it's such a thrill, I suppose. I haven't seen him around. I haven't met him yet, but I think playing practise rounds with as many sort of good players as you can and guys you can really learn from and see how they go about their business and just ask as many questions as possible, that would be a great opportunity just to get some real insight.
And then on the golf course, yeah, I'm sure he's obviously a great player to be here. So believe in yourself, and if there's a moment where you can get on the leaderboard, those are going to be great experiences. So kind of go in with a Cinderella story knowing it's possible. I think we always see an amateur do well at some point during the week, and hopefully it can be Sam.
Q. Justin, I would guess that winning the Olympic gold there in Rio was a career moment, but are you a little disappointed? And why do you think maybe since then you haven't fared better in majors? Of course, second at the Masters in 2017, but after that, some missed cuts and probably not up to your expectations. Any thoughts? Any reason why? And what do you need to do to turn things around this week?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think, obviously, I changed my swing right after Rio. My back was still pretty bad. Last summer was a byproduct of that. Since I made that change, I've been top ten like 17 of my last 22. Augusta was kind of fairly strong again this year at 12, but it was a 12th, like worst I could have been was 12th. I still felt very confident that week was a good chance.
Obviously, going into a real proper U.S. Open this year, I teed off one-back going into Sunday. If you give me one-back going into Sunday on every single major championship going forward, I'll be delighted. So I feel like I'm beginning to create those looks again. I'm excited with where my game is at. I feel like it should perform well in majors coming up. So I don't really see it that way.
Q. Just quickly, Matt Kuchar tends to carry his Olympic bronze medal around. Do you break it out and bring it to any tournaments?
JUSTIN ROSE: No. I did for a little while. It was fun for a bit. I got a sense the boys were getting irritated after two or three months of doing it, and I thought that's enough. But, yes, when you win a tournament like that, you have four years of bragging rights. It's been a fun deal, but it's resting nice and quietly at home.
Q. John, if these conditions remain exactly as they are now, what type of player do they favour?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think that's the beauty of it. I don't -- it's going to favour a patient one for sure because, you know, even if you play this golf course aggressively, you're going to have ups and downs during the week. You're going to have bad lies. You're going to have shots that do end up in bunkers. You're going to have breaks and bounces that go against you. So I think accepting that is probably the biggest, wide sweeping statement that the player who wins is going to have to be patient with all of that for sure.
I think that's the beauty of this golf course is that length isn't a necessity, which brings the whole field into it from that point of view. But there are players like Dustin and Brooks, who are going to take it on, and should they have a great week off the tee, they can make -- they can do a lot of damage.
So like I said, I haven't formulated my game plan yet. It's probably going to be a mixture of the both. Definitely for me it's going to be knowing when to attack, and I think it's going to be about good strategy, knowing which pins are your birdie opportunities, which pins to respect.
And I think the scoring is going to be -- it's not going to be easy, but there are going to be some scores out there to be had, especially early in the week if the winds aren't too strong. And later in the week, if it dries out, I think the R&A, they're probably going to let the greens firm up a hair more than they're at. With stronger winds forecast over the weekend, I think you're going to have guys with a chance to score early in the week and it will be tough going into the weekend. That's the perfect major championship scenario, I think.
Q. (No microphone).
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, for sure, there's a lot. The strength and depth on all of the tours is getting stronger. I think on a golf course that is -- yeah, well-known on the European Tour, that will be -- that will help. It's playing a little different. But I think, yeah, links golf can always throw up a surprise. We've seen winners of this championship come out of the blue before. So no doubt, that makes it very open for sure.
Q. Just I think on Friday it will be 20 years to the day since you turned pro. This body of work you've put together over the last few months, is this the best you've ever played? Could you give, say, one high, one low over that time? And can you think of a better place to celebrate your 20 years?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think definitely the consistency that I'm playing at now is by far the best I've ever had in my career. That sort of -- like sustaining that level of high play, I think, is a mark of all the hard work and experience, I suppose. Areas of my game that I've improved in, which I say is putting, which is probably the biggest area.
The high? You know, I would say the low was probably not finishing strongly in Dubai when I was on a really strong run there. I felt like that was a great opportunity for me to win the Race to Dubai last year. I feel like I've been on a pretty good run for pretty much 10, 11 months now when I've been knocking on the door of that tournament. So end of last year Dubai. And around Dubai, there were a lot of highlights. I think I won three of the last four weeks.
Indonesia, I was winning by eight going away from the field. That was the first time I'd done that. I think that obviously was a highlight. And that mentality really helped me at the Colonial this year where I teed off with a four-shot lead by kept going forward. The Colonial so far this year has been the highlight.
But, yeah, I couldn't think of a better time to turn it around and to sort of bring everything full circle, if you like, and lift the Claret Jug any year. Take it any year, but 20 years has a nice ring to it, if I want to be superstitious.
Q. Hi, Justin. You are playing with defending champion Spieth. How do you look at that draw? Is it quite helpful, perhaps?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I saw I was playing with Jordan and Kiradech. I haven't thought about him being the defending champion, to be honest with you. Yeah, that's not necessarily on my radar. I feel like the golf course doesn't know who's the defending champion, to be honest with you. It changes every year. I feel like defending champion really means a lot when you go to the same venue the following year. When you go to a new venue, for me, it doesn't really count much as all other than he knows how to play links golf and he's prevailed, and there will be good memories for him.
Really good draw for me. I like playing with Jordan a lot. I respect his game a lot. I can work off his game. And also Kiradech, too. He's an easy-going guy. He has good hands and hit fun shots, and he'll be a good guy to play with too.
Q. Justin, obviously, American players have dominated sort of the last few majors. What do you put that down to? Do you think a European player could come in this weekend?
JUSTIN ROSE: I don't know what I'd put it down to other than the American boys in the world rankings and on the golf course are performing really, really well. The top end of American golf right now is incredibly strong. There's a bit of a camaraderie amongst all of them. I know Brooks and Dustin are incredibly close, and you've got Rickie and Justin Thomas and Jordan as a group are all really close. It's working really well for them. They're spurring each other on.
I think Tommy, clearly, he showed how close the Europeans are to challenging that dominance as well. So it's not like we're a mile behind. It's just they're on a great run right now, and there's no reason why a European player shouldn't come through this week.
Q. Justin, I wouldn't normally make a habit of putting two and two together and making five, but if you were to win The Open this week, would there be a sense of maybe golf's coming home?
JUSTIN ROSE: Got to keep the good feeling going, yeah, for sure. I'm not the only one with a chance to do that, but, yeah, it would be nice, to follow on from your point, it would be nice to get some good momentum for the Europeans going into the Ryder Cup in September to start challenging in these biggest tournaments for sure. I'd love it to be me, but, yeah, it would be good to kind of see a change of the tide for sure.
Q. But does that relate to Britain as well, narrowing it from Europe for a British player?
JUSTIN ROSE: Obviously, Tommy's got a brilliant chance. Paul Casey's got a great chance. He's been knocking on the door many times now too. Paul is dangerous on links golf courses. Darren Clarke won one out of the blue years ago. Maybe it's sort of a Westy time as well. You just never know. Rory clearly is always dangerous. Probably even more dangerous at the minute because he's been a little quiet. I find that Rory is always quiet for a while, and then he'll kind of kickback into gear.
So, yeah, there's lots of great options out there, great opportunities for the boys.
Q. Justin, just to follow up on something that you said earlier, how unusual is it that at this stage of a major championship week that you don't have your strategy set? A bunch of players have come in here and said it is kind of a fluid situation and they haven't quite got a grasp on it yet.
JUSTIN ROSE: I think it's always important to go out with some type of plan, but quite often, I always start off quite conservative in my game plan, and by the time I get to Sunday, I've changed it dramatically through the week as well. So it is always a fluid situation. I think, until you see the forecast on a links course, you can't really make too much of -- you can play it out of the east in practise, and it switches to the west, and it is so different.
But I was here, clearly it was firm two weeks ago by all accounts. I've been hearing about guys hitting it in the Burn on 18. When I was here, it was like no wind, if anything, into the breeze. That didn't seem on. It's going to be an important couple of days for me now just to really dial that in.
I don't think it's unusual really two days before not to have 100 percent of a game plan, to know what I'm hitting every single tee, but it's also very important to know -- I look at the golf course two ways for sure: I look at it as what's plan A and plan B? You need to be able to adapt out there during the week.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports