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September 22, 2018

Justin Rose

Atlanta, Georgia

MICHAEL BALIKER: I'd like to welcome Justin Rose off a 2-under 68 today. A lot going on out there, but bringing the deficit down to 3; talk about your mindset heading into tomorrow.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it was a fun day, obviously just it was kind of a day where I had to battle back after the start. No. 1 is not an easy hole, and then compounded it with a three-putt at No. 2, obviously in contrast to Tiger's start, I guess. It was good, just kind of it was a day where I had to work my way into the round. I knew that -- in some ways it felt like a Sunday just with the energy and stuff like that, but I knew that it was halfway through a Saturday, and I had tons of time. Just wanted to sort of chisel a few back and give myself a chance going into tomorrow, which I think ultimately turned into what the day was all about, and pleased with my position going into tomorrow.

Q. When you look at the start you had and he had, what was your objective, would you say, like middle of the front nine to finish by the end of the day? Did you have something in mind?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, 68. Yeah, when I was 2-over early, I said, you're four down to the golf course. Let's take Tiger out of the equation, let's just kind of build a round of golf, pretend I was four down to the course. I would have liked to have beat it, so maybe 67 is what I was after, but I essentially played match play against the course from that point, and I guess finished with a tie.

Q. What were you thinking; Tiger made a phenomenal start. What were you thinking just going through your mind?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, I was playing my match against the golf course, really. Obviously, I was aware of it. The crowds were electric because of it. He was running the tables there. He was hitting good shots and making the conversion putts. But also I realized how much golf there was to play. So it was about me and just what I had to do. It was the kind of day that if I let my focus drop or if I got frustrated or if I did anything wrong, it was kind of day that could unravel really quite, so I had to be on top of my game today, my mental process out there for sure. And I've really enjoyed it. It was a fun day.

Q. On the putting itself, do you feel you had a lot of good looks out there? Do you feel like you left some out there --

Q. And on 18, were there some roots around your ball on the second shot?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, so -- yeah, putting-wise today I felt like I didn't have the speed as well as I had it previous days. A couple of times I felt like I was playing a lot of break, and because of that, I was maybe -- just didn't have enough speed on the ball to get it running through the hole. So yeah, my line and speed just didn't match up as nicely today as it has the first couple of days. So I'll certainly try to calibrate and adjust tomorrow. When I come out, I might spend 15, 20 minutes on the putting green extra tomorrow just to really try and get the flow of my stroke and the speed going tomorrow.

But yeah, the shot on 18, for sure, there were some roots around my ball, so I was trying to hit a very shallow, picky kind of rolling draw, and I think just obviously just overdrew it. But there were a couple of scenarios. I could have tried to maybe hit it to the green with a really powerful draw 4-iron or go over the top of the trees maybe with a 9-iron, but I just wasn't confident. One root, and it takes out the rest of the season, so it wasn't worth the risk at that point.

Q. Did it feel like old times out there seeing Tiger's name atop the board?
JUSTIN ROSE: I guess so, yeah. I feel like he's led tournaments this year, though, hasn't he, at times? His name has been there. It's not the first time. Obviously it's the first time maybe later towards the back end of a tournament and by a number of shots, so yeah, it's -- I've been saying for a while now, he's playing easily well enough to win, and it's just a matter of time. You just don't want it to be on your watch, you know.

Obviously he's going to be tough to beat tomorrow. The guy, although he hasn't won for a long time, I'm sure it's going to be hard for him tomorrow. It will probably be for him trying to win for the first time again. It's been a long time. But he has so much positive -- well, he has so much experience to draw on that he's going to be a hard guy to chase down tomorrow.

But I think for me, the way I look at tomorrow is that I have many scenarios in play. I have the FedExCup in play. I have all of that to distract me. But yet, I'm three back. I think that's my objective tomorrow is to come out and play good, positive golf and try and chase down the leader and win this golf tournament. I think in some ways that'll help my other task of trying to win the FedExCup. It'll keep me on the front foot and playing positive golf.

Q. Justin, you just talked about staying within yourself and focusing on you when playing with Tiger helped you to play well. Rory told us that he will do the same and self-talk all the time. How do you do that? Can you explain a little bit?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think it's important. You can kid yourself out there. You can keep telling yourself a story and you've just got to keep going with it. But you need to settle into the round. You need to hit a couple good shots. You need to find your rhythm, and once you do that, then it's easy. So for me, the first couple holes were tough and then I started to play nicely. Third hole played beautifully, hit a beautiful drive on No. 4. Then I felt like I was into the round, and from that point it wasn't difficult anymore. To lose a couple shots -- normally you can feel uncomfortable for three, four, five holes trying to adjust to the round and the situation, and sometimes you can be 1-under through that period. But unfortunately today, I dropped a couple of shots through that. But it's important to hit a couple of good shots early to settle yourself down and then you get into the flow. But I think it can be -- playing with Tiger can be the kind of day, if you just keep getting on the wrong side of momentum, it can become much tougher, and that's why I was very happy to turn my day around pretty quickly today.

Obviously for Rory, he'll face the same tomorrow. I don't know, I feel like on TOUR, Saturdays are the rowdier days because I'm not sure if people tend to -- I don't know if it's a football thing and people stay home on a Sunday or if people like to watch on a Sunday, but I feel like Saturday is more the intense day on TOUR. So be interesting to see what tomorrow is like with Tiger three ahead and who comes out and what it'll feel like. I'm sure it'll feel much the same, but Saturdays I think are the crazy day.

Q. This is kind of following up on what you said; you're right there, you did your job today. How do you go into tomorrow? Do you play aggressive? Do you play conservative? Do you just do your job? What is your momentum going into tomorrow?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think the best form of defense is to play aggressively tomorrow, to come out and try and -- yeah, play this golf course as I want to play this golf course, which is positively -- it's about being committed. It's about executing the tee shots to put the ball in play, and then you can go from there. But just commitment is the word really.

You can't force it. You can't start hitting drivers on holes that you haven't hit driver all week because you're trying to play catch-up. You've got to trust your putter. You've got to put the ball under the hole. You've got to make 15-footers from the right spots on this golf course. It'll be a very tactical round tomorrow and this is going to be how I execute. But my mentality is just to come out and look forward and not backwards.

Q. Would you rather be in the final group or do you like the fact that you're playing from behind and don't have to play with Tiger?
JUSTIN ROSE: I'd like to be 10-under in the final group. I think 9-under I'd probably choose to be the group ahead and setting the pace and giving the boys something to look at if it starts to go well. I think that's preferable. But I would have taken 10-under in the final group. That would have been my preferred situation.

Q. Does facing a three-shot deficit to Tiger feel any different now than it might have 10 or 12 years ago?
JUSTIN ROSE: Maybe. It's a little more unknown now. Obviously his history, his statistics from this point are impeccable. They're incredible. But he's human, and there's a lot on it for him tomorrow, as well as the rest of us. It'll be a fun day for everybody to watch and to be a part of.

Q. I was really impressed that you could get off to a bogey-bogey start and still have the composure to bring it back.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I mean, that's obviously one thing I take out of today. Obviously it wasn't a dream start for sure. Obviously it was the kind of round you would have loved to have settled into a little bit quicker than that, and obviously I put myself behind early. It was a complete contrast to Tiger's start also.

So yeah, it did feel like an uphill struggle. But I was really proud of the way I bounced back. But I sort of reset my targets and my objectives at that point, and I played my way back into the tournament, so I was happy.

Q. At any point during the round did you think Tiger was stretching away from you?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I was still waiting for my round. I still felt like I had some golf in me, some birdies in me, and I was comfortable if I could stay within two, three, four, tomorrow is a long day. Tiger played great today, and this is a tough golf course to get around on a Sunday. You've got to hit a lot of fairways, which he did today. Yeah, I just wanted to be in touch going into tomorrow.

Q. I believe you lost the penultimate group with a par on the last hole. Does that make any difference?
JUSTIN ROSE: Do you know what? In some ways I wanted to make my putt on 18 to get to 10 because at the end of the day, you want to be as many under par as you can. That's the ultimate. But when I realized when I got into the scorer's hut that Rory had got it to 9, yeah, obviously it's not easy playing with Tiger, especially when everyone is right behind him like this -- feels like a first win really, that everyone is looking for from him. He showed so much potential this year, and to get across the line; that's what everyone is hoping happens tomorrow, except the other guys on the leaderboard. But yeah, I think being one group ahead of it might be a blessing in disguise.

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