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September 18, 2018

Justin Rose

Atlanta, Georgia

MARK WILLIAMS: We'd like to welcome Justin Rose into the interview room at the TOUR Championship. You entered the Playoffs in the top 5 and one of the three players to stay in the top 5. After missing the cut and having a couple of runner-up finishes, coming here to the TOUR Championship where you've had some good finishes, talk about your feelings. Obviously you're in really good form and looking forward to this event.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. It's obviously a perfect spot to be. I believe the last few guys to win it have come in second, so it's kind of a nice spot to be. We all talk about all year long just being in this position, top-5 guys. You've got to play well this week. Obviously we've jostle for position and when the bonus money trickles down, it's important to be as high as you can. But to win the FedExCup, it's about being in the right spot to win this week, and that's kind of what everyone is trying to time their run for, and absolutely, the last couple weeks have done a great job of keeping me in that position. I missed the cut the first week, but it was kind of a funny missed cut. I actually felt like I played well on the golf course, just one of those off weeks on the greens.

Two very different seconds the last couple weeks. One second I birdied four of my last six to finish second, and then the last second place was not such a great-feeling second, but that's the way it goes, and happy to have an opportunity this week.

MARK WILLIAMS: This is your first tournament as the No. 1-ranked player in the world. Has the reception been a little different here for you this week?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, all the boys without fail have kind of said, hey, man, congrats on getting to No. 1. They realize it's a big milestone. It's a moment in your career that you always remember and cherish. I think I've always said whether you're defending champion at a tournament or if you've played somewhere well the previous year or if you're World No. 1, the golf course doesn't recognize it.

So from my point of view, yeah, I want to enjoy playing my first event as World No. 1, but I also kind of understand that really nothing should change, so to speak, and good consistent golf is what's got me to the top, and now the challenge is to stay there doing the same stuff.

Q. Justin, when you came off the BMW, you seemed to be almost underwhelmed at being No. 1 because the feeling of disappointment was so intense. When did you allow yourself to think this was a heck of an achievement?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, probably a couple of days after the BMW. I knew after I signed my card after the playoff started, it was enough to be No. 1. But a playoff is a playoff, and they're over really quickly; if you make a mistake, it's not like you have time to recover. So yeah, obviously it was disappointing to finish the tournament that way. I felt like I had done such a good job, and I knew I was two back of Keegan when he birdied 17 and then to birdie 16 and 17 on top of him, I just felt really, really good about where I was at.

And also -- one of the things I'm proud of last week was the putt I hit to win the tournament. My last putt was a great putt that didn't drop. You've got to look at things sometimes in a positive light, so I feel like I did a lot right, just the playoff, I'd like just to leave it there. That wasn't great.

You know, I think for sure, the last -- the reaction on my phone, you can always judge it on your phone. If you win a Major, your phone blows up; you win a tournament, you get a nice bunch of messages. And getting to World No. 1, my phone blew up again. You can kind of gauge it from the response really of your wider network. It was a big moment for sure. I've enjoyed it. I've been able to have just a glass of champagne over the weekend with a couple close friends and try to just mark it with a -- saying, this is fun, this is a moment we've worked hard for, but also you realize that life goes on at home. The kids were happy for five minutes and then they're on to the next thing. Kate gets caught up with her world, so nothing changes at home. I'm still No. 2 or 3 there.

Q. How important is it to you to remain there and make sure the reign is not only two weeks?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, well, I accept it's really tight up top. It could easily switch this week. I just feel that if I go to 2 or 3 this week, if Dustin and Brooks both play well, I have an opportunity the week after and British Masters, and going to China and Turkey -- whatever my schedule is the rest of the year, there's going to be opportunities to get back there. So I'd love to end the year No. 1. I'd say that's a goal. I think if I lose it between now and then, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it because it is so tight at the top. Literally, if I finish seventh this week and Brooks finishes sixth, he'll go to No. 1, so it is that tight.

Q. How important would it be to Europe to have the No. 1 in the team room next week?
JUSTIN ROSE: I don't think it's a boost really. I think it's just more of a target on your back, if anything, but I'd love that title. I think both teams are strong. I think the American team World Ranking-wise is incredibly strong, in the top 15. Most of their team is right there. And then the guys who are down in the World Rankings would be your Tigers and your Phils who have an incredible amount of experience.

I feel like the No. 1 is maybe a small consolation. We know we're up against it. But I think it doesn't -- World Rankings don't mean much. 18-hole match play golf, we've seen it at the Dell Match Play. The reason they changed the format is the No. 1 seed kept losing in the first couple days. Really to me, the World Ranking going into the Ryder Cup means nothing.

Q. Can I get your thoughts on Captain Bjorn's picks and the golf course itself in Paris?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yep, obviously I think three of the picks were pretty obvious, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson. There was a bit of conjecture who should be the last pick. Rafa Cabrera-Bello did a great job of playing in Boston. He was in the lead on the back nine, that was probably really messing with the Captain's head a little bit. I think he wanted to go with Sergio and give Sergio a shot to prove that he's -- just if you look -- you know, class is temporary, form is permanent. Sergio, you have to put in the class division. It's not necessarily about who deserves the spot, it's about who on September the 28th -- whatever it might be -- who's going to deliver a point, and obviously everything that runs up until that point is -- a lot of guys are playing well. But on the day, who's going to step up, and I think that's where he just went with Sergio and his experience and the fact that he's maybe got something to prove at this point this year. Hasn't been the greatest year for him, so for him the Ryder Cup now becomes everything. So I think that's a player who could be dangerous.

Q. And the golf course?
JUSTIN ROSE: Golf course, I don't know it particularly well. I haven't played it for maybe four, five, six, seven years, but it's a great golf course. I think it's going to be a fantastic fan golf course, the way it's sort of set up. There's going to be a lot of risk-reward holes, a lot of water in play, a demanding finish. So it should have everything for drama.

Q. Just want to get your thoughts on the new FedExCup format and what you thought about it.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it's interesting. Obviously I think clearly the goal was to have one championship here, not the TOUR Championship and the FedExCup and two awkward trophies. Not that they're awkward, they're great trophies. It's nice to be juggling trophies on a Sunday. But I think just to simplify everything for the viewers, okay, this is the one-and-done finish to the TOUR.

So how did they come up with that? Well, you have to validate the season, and there's a tournament to play this week here at East Lake, a tournament that has great history. So combining them, obviously they've come up with the under-par system instead of points, and I think maybe easier to follow for people at home. Kind of definitely strange and very different to be on 10-under par starting on the first tee.

But I think with all the analysis that they've run, the TOUR have run, it hasn't changed the outcome of the FedExCup change very often, and I think only -- it's maybe twice it may have changed and I think Luke Donald has been on the receiving end of both of those, so he's owed $20 million as of next year. But obviously Luke -- the quality of golf that Luke played those last couple of years that he was in contention for the FedExCup was worthy of winning one rather than maybe somebody jumping up from down below. Just going on the data, I think it's not really -- from our point of view, good golf is still going to get rewarded season-long, which is important for us.

Q. You were speaking about Captain Bjorn's wild card picks a minute ago. How important is the Captain to the vibe and the tone around the team?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I mean, a captain, I think, has got -- he is very important, but I think it's more -- if the team are playing well, he can harm it more than help it. Just kind of stay out of the way a little bit. Obviously the pairings are important, but sometimes it's self-explanatory. I just think having a very simple, clear plan at the beginning of the week -- and just from previous teams that I've been in, the ones that have been well-thought out and well-planned, so the players know what their role is, they've worked well. And all the reactive day-to-day decision making, those seem to be the Ryder Cups that haven't gone as well. I think a captain with a plan that lets his players play is normally the best one.

Q. You have five rookies on the Ryder Cup team. Is that a big deal anymore?
JUSTIN ROSE: Depends who those rookies are, yeah. I think maybe our rookies last time around, playing away was a big deal. Guys that were pretty much European Tour players, and then coming to play in that type of atmosphere and arena, I think that was a big jump. I think maybe our rookies this year are maybe a little more experienced, and they've been up there in some huge events. Obviously I'm thinking of guys like Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, guys who have -- obviously Alex is -- he wins a lot. He's sneaky. He pockets more trophies than you think. Guys who know how to get it done, but guys who are going to be comfortable playing in Europe, and I think that's a really big advantage for our rookies this time around over the five rookies we had last time around.

Q. Zinger told me that back in his day there was genuine dislike between the teams. Has that changed over the years?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think so. I think just the fact that we all just from a personal view, you have to kind of -- Ryder Cup comes once every 104 weeks, right, and you basically play golf with these guys 103 other weeks of those two years, so it's not worth falling out for me over that one tournament. It's passionate. Of course it is. And I think you need to have an edge. It needs to be edgy. That's what you guys love about it. That's what gets everyone's attention. That's what people love at home. There needs to be an edge.

But I think the fact that so many guys play on the same tour now, it's not us versus them. We all play a worldwide schedule, we see each other every week. It's not like you come together once every two years and you're not going to see those guys for another couple of year, so what the hell, let's just go at each other's throats. I think we're all kind of somewhat mature enough to realize we need to figure it out.

Q. Your improved putting this season is a big reason why you've been able to get to No. 1 in the world. How difficult is it to impact one aspect of your game that much while at the same time not letting the other parts of your game dip and drop and lose out the advantage that you're getting?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think that is very much the case. I feel like I haven't hit the ball this year as I have in previous years, and I wish I could have had everything absolutely buttoned up, but maybe that's next year. That's the great thing, having got to No. 1, I can still look at my game and pinpoint areas where I know there's gaps to fill, and that's the exciting thing.

For me, obviously No. 1 is a milestone, but it's not really the end of any sort of journey. I still feel motivated to wake up in the morning and find those little gaps. But you're right, I think if you start making too many changes and you start looking under too many rocks for answers, you can begin to forget what's worked. And I think for me, just the putting side, I've simplified it. I haven't added more to putt better, I've taken things away and simplified in order to putt better. So improvement can be a double-edged sword. If you try to hard for it and you don't understand the processes that are in place, the work, you can get lost real quick.

Q. I have two questions. Number one, where does ranking as No. 1 golfer in the world fall in your hierarchy of career accomplishments from winning a tournament, winning a major, winning an Olympic gold medal?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think if you were just to -- if I were going to talk about my career, I'd say Justin Rose, Major Champion, Olympic gold medalist, World No. 1. That's the three things I would choose to say. Not necessarily in that order maybe, but that's how I would just simplify my career. Those would be the top three.

Q. On East Lake question. No. 14 played as the 21st hardest hole on TOUR last year. Can you talk about your preparation going into that hole?
JUSTIN ROSE: The par-3, right?

Q. No --
JUSTIN ROSE: Oh, before the par-3. Yeah, I mean, it's such a lovely hole. It's one of my favorite holes. It's all about hitting the fairway off the tee really for me. It's a hit the fairway off the tee, aim into the middle of the green, putt to the corners. That's very much how you'd like to play that hole. But the Bermuda rough is really, really tricky. It's a semi-blind tee shot, so not only is it a narrow fairway, it's a fairway that's ever so slightly angled away from you, left to right. And you can't see it, so you're trying to pick -- you don't exactly know -- you think you can pick a good line, but you could be two or three yards out from where the center is quite easily.

The margins on your miss could be through decision making on the line, and obviously you have to get the line right, but the line changes daily based upon wind direction and stuff like that, depending on how short or long the hole is playing, so you have to adjust your line. So I think that's what makes that hole pretty tricky is hitting the fairway off the tee for that reason.

Q. A lot of the success of Europe over the last 15, 20 years has been explained away by the team cohesion. You guys travel together, eat meals together. Has the playing field sort of been levels over the last few years? Do you see that a little bit more from the American team than the past generation?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, very much so. I think that motion was definitely much -- Europe was a hard tour to play. You couldn't take your family with you, therefore, that created an environment where a bunch of guys were on the road together, and naturally you'd come together, and just for the sake of eating in your room alone, you'd hang out together wherever that may be. I think a lot of us play over here now, it's much more conducive to being with your family.

But also you've seen the relationships between the young guys on the American team, very tight-knit group of guys, and they're obviously the new blood of the Ryder Cup, and I think that's definitely changed things. I don't think ours is weakened in any sense, but I think the American team is a very tight, tight group in the last couple of years.

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