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October 24, 2018

Justin Rose

Shanghai, China

BRIONY CARLYON: Justin, thank you for joining us here. Defending champion. I'm sure it's been a warm welcome back for you here in Shanghai. Perhaps if you can give us some of those memories from last year and how much you're looking forward to being back.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. Obviously coming back into this building brings back great memories.

Obviously this is where I was talking to you guys all after winning it a year ago Sunday. It is really good to be back actually. The course is looking lovely out there, and yeah, warm welcome back from everybody here at Sheshan and obviously HSBC, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to the week getting going tomorrow.

BRIONY CARLYON: This win last year certainly helped yourself winning European Tour titles, PGA TOUR titles, a world No. 1 spot, a winning Ryder Cup Team. You've hosted your own event in the U.K., FedEx Champion. The list is pretty special in the last 12 months. How are you feeling about everything coming into the week?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, as you say, I won the FedExCup by 34 points and the 550 I earned here were a long way towards winning that.

So yeah, it's been a special year. It's been a special month, a couple of those things you mentioned, going to No. 1, The Ryder Cup, the FedEx all happened pretty much off the back of one another. British Masters was a huge honour to host that. It's been a really exciting couple of months to be honest with you.

I think everyone -- it's always a funny time of year, really, because the new season has started but you're also coming to what feels like the end of the year. You're trying to get off to a great start for your 2019 campaign on the PGA TOUR and trying to finish strong on the 2018 European Tour Race to Dubai, but you are also looking forward to a break at the same time.

There's a lot going on this time of year and obviously for me, this time last year, I started to play really well and won a few tournaments right at the back end of the year, which made a huge difference.

So hopefully, looking for something similar, obviously. A little bit behind in The Race to Dubai and need a bit of a special run now. But I guess I'm coming in here with confidence. My game has been steady enough. A lot of Top-10s pretty much in the last 12 months.

Yeah, it would be great to get in the winner's circle more regularly, and starting here would be awesome.

Q. That was quite a list that was read out earlier. It's a bit churlish to ask, but do you have a highlight from the year?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think, you know, getting to world No. 1 obviously, that's a milestone moment.

Clearly winning the FedExCup is right up there, as well, but that's a year's work. I feel like getting to world No. 1 is a career's amount of work, really, and yeah, that milestone, hitting that was probably pretty special. If I had to choose one, that would be it.

Q. And would you say this tournament obviously kick=started the whole year, because you went from here and then won in Turkey, back-to-back, and you really didn't seem to look back from that moment on, really?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. My manager, Mark Steinberg, walked nine holes with me at this tournament last year during the Pro-Am, and we were talking. I said, listen, I think it's really time to go on a bit of a run here and let's put some great golf here. I felt very hungry and motivated to just try and find another level, really.

We kind of look back now and that nine holes was kind of poignant, just the discussions that we had out there, and the fun that we had out there, and the intention that I had, really, to go and try and start to play at another level.

Yeah, this tournament absolutely did kick-start some great golf for me that's lasted the best part of the year.

Q. When you arrived to the golf course Sunday last year, what was your goal that day? Were you thinking about winning? Were you thinking about just playing a good round and having a strong finish?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think I was second-last group, obviously, I don't know where I was lying, maybe fourth or something like that.

Q. Eight strokes back?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I was eight strokes back. Probably wasn't thinking about winning at that point. DJ, was he five ahead, and eight ahead of me, is that how it was? So I mean, the way he was playing, it was unlikely that he was going to give up a big lead.

But yeah, there was all to play for. As we know, it's a World Golf Championship. There's a ton of points. You're trying to get your PGA TOUR season off to a good start. The World Ranking points are there for the taking, so there's always the goal of going out and getting as much of the pie as you can.

It became apparent on the back nine, really, I felt like -- I think I touched the lead with as few as five holes to play. So I played my way into the tournament in the middle of the back nine, and then it was about finishing it off and it became my tournament to win or lose.

Yeah, it all happened really quickly, really. But I remember the par 5 14th hole, I knew that I was right in the mix. Sometimes when you're playing catch-up, you play very free golf. But I think what I was able to do was continue to play freely all the way to the finish line.

Sometimes you get into a lead and you can get a bit cagey, so I think I did a good job, especially with the wind, to stay really committed. Birdied 16 and 17, opening up a two-shot lead playing the last. I was proud of the way I finished it off when the opportunity arose on the back nine.

Q. You said the phrase "finish it off" twice there, and a colleague of mine asked me to ask this question, he's working on a story about the kind of moment back nine on a Sunday and when you realise it's winning time and it's time to finish this off. When you realise that, is there something that you have that helps you finish it off, that helps you get to the end of the tournament? Is there -- study hard on a putt or work hard, or do you do the things you did to get there?
JUSTIN ROSE: For me, it's about freeing it up. I think trying harder is the opposite for me. It's becoming in the moment, just letting it -- freeing it up. That's the best way I can describe it: Releasing the putter head, flowing everything, great rhythm.

Yeah, just that sort of not trying to over-control the result, because I think when you do that, you generally tighten up and it doesn't go your way. It's kind of trusting yourself and trusting that your commitment and execution is going to take you to the finish line.

Q. Obviously you mentioned the highlight of your year in to 18 is the World Ranking No. 1, and tomorrow you'll be in the same group with Brooks Koepka, definitely now the world No. 1. Being able to play against him so close, what's your take on that?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I've played many times with Dustin Johnson in the last year, six months, whatever it's been, while he's been world No. 1, and I've played a lot of golf with Brooks, actually, I feel like in the last few months, as well.

So the fact he's No. 1 doesn't really -- I've always felt very comfortable playing with DJ and it will be the same with Brooks tomorrow. I feel like the world No. 1 has been trading around a little bit and Brooks certainly deserves it, winning two majors this year.

But it doesn't -- I think those guys would say the same for me when I was No. 1. It doesn't make any difference to how I'm going to approach my play tomorrow versus me playing with them or them playing with me if I was No. 1.

The great thing about golf is that you play the golf course, you don't play the man. That's your ultimate competitor out there, so it keeps it pretty simple.

Q. You just mentioned that it's important that you play the course, not the man. Having been out on the course now, what's your feeling for particular aspects of your game that you really need to execute well here this week, and maybe particular holes that you see as an opportunity to maybe get out ahead of the game?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think the par 5s are key this week. No. 2, for example, and No. 18 is also a pretty narrow tee shot. No. 8 is a very intimidating tee shot.

So if you can be brave off the tee on the par 5s, I feel like there's quite a bit of an advantage to be had. So you're playing those holes well. I think that's why guys like Dustin and Brooks and myself, we've played well on this golf course before because we drive the ball pretty well generally.

I think the course is playing well. On a day like today, it was gorgeous out there today. Greens are relatively soft. The greens are a speed where you can be very aggressive with the putter, as well. They are rolling at a nice speed. They are very true but they are not overly quick right now. So I think you're going to have to make putts this week.

BRIONY CARLYON: Thank you, Justin, for your time. All the best this week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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