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TURKISH AIRLINES OPEN


October 31, 2018


Tommy Fleetwood

Justin Rose


Antalya, Turkey

NEIL AHERN: Excited to welcome two of golf's biggest stars, firstly, we have the Olympic Champion and defending Turkish Airlines champion, Justin Rose. And we also have the 2017 Race to Dubai champion, Tommy Fleetwood.

Before we take questions from the floor, Justin, how does it feel to be returning here as the defending champion.

JUSTIN ROSE: It feels good, really good. We sometimes get used to saying, it feels good to be back but I think here on this occasion, it really feels good to be back. The hospitality here in Turkey, the hotel, the food, the sunshine, the golf course, everybody is having a wonderful time.

Obviously it's been the end of a long year and this is the perfect venue to come to and everybody has really enjoyed their Monday and Tuesday, a bit of R&R before the serious golf gets going but it feels good to be back.

NEIL AHERN: You've been here every year since 2013, the very first event. What is it about this place that you love so much, dare I ask?

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I think for many reasons, for different people, you'll see a lot of families here and there's a lot for everybody to do, and literally don't have to move once you're here; there's so much to do.

The golf courses and for me and the practise facilities, so on a professional level, as well, you really don't get many places over the course of the year that you enjoy practising or playing as much as here. The family aspect, the enjoyment aspect of the hotel and the hospitality and the professional aspect of where you're working, it all fits together very nicely.

Q. If you were to finish, you would get back to world No. 1 -- and you've never defended a title successfully, if that were all to happen --
JUSTIN ROSE: No, it would be a great double-whammy. I set many goals between now and the end of the year. Last week I had the opportunity to defend and in Indonesia I had the opportunity to defend, as well as here. Like you said it's something I haven't been able to do many my career and that was a goal, certainly for that collective three events.

But I said a while back, that I wanted to get to world No. 1 by winning golf tournaments, and I got there by finishing second at the BMW a month or so ago. This would be, yeah, a great place to knock off two big goals of mine, which is to get back to world No. 1 obviously, because once you get a taste for it, it's quite nice, and secondly, to defend a title would be a special feeling, too. Yes, I'm keenly aware of the situation.

Q. I just wondered whether you had set out a list of goals at the start of the year, and if world No. 1 was one, and what other boxes you've ticked this year?
JUSTIN ROSE: Do you know, I very rarely set outcome goals, like I want to win a major, I want to do this, I want to get to world No. 1. I really focus on my game. I focus on the areas that I think I can improve my game, and if I look back to maybe 2017, anyway, a couple of years ago, my team and I put a plan together for what we felt I had to do to get to world No. 1, and a big part of that was my putting.

So it's not about just improve your putting, but it's how you go about that. We built a bit of a process. I felt I could really improve between three and eight feet, so I built some putting drills to help me improve that. And then this year, on the PGA TOUR any way, where the stats are quite robust and you can look into it a bit deeper, I was No. 1 four to eight feet on Tour.

So that's how I choose to set my goals, really, is areas of my game rather than results. I feel like the results take care of themselves from that point of view.

But as early as May this year, people started talking to me about world No. 1. There was a mathematical chance at THE PLAYERS Championship, I could have got to world No. 1. That surprised me. I didn't realise it was that close to me, really, and once it was on the cards, it became more of a goal and once I achieved it was a milestone moment in my career and one that I'm proud of for sure.

Q. You had a stellar season last year, and sometimes that's difficult to back up. How pleased have you been that you're in the running again for European No. 1 this season?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Well, yeah, it's nice. It's nice to get to the end of the year and still have -- there's always things to play for. Always different goals. Always different titles and positions that you are in. There's still plenty to do and it really isn't at the forefront of my mind.

The practise is staying the same. There's, what, three, four tournaments left. I would love to win, if you were going to look at something like outcome-wise and I don't think anybody would hold it against Fran if he was to walk away with it, with the Race to Dubai.

But it is nice and it's the one thing at the end of last year, after winning The Race to Dubai, it's such a big achievement in your career and definitely for me at the time, it the biggest thing I've ever done and still is.

The one thing we wanted to do is make sure you didn't just sit back and enjoy that; it was use that as a springboard to improve this year and to move forward. I've had a lot of different things going on this year and it's been my first year playing in America with a full card, so been playing both tours and fitting the schedule in that way.

So to get to this point, and still have a chance, however small or big, it's really nice, and it just keeps you practising, keeps you working.

Q. Are you aware of how close you would get to Frankie by winning this week? It would really make it sort of a matter of a few thousand points?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: We were just talking about it then. It's not something that I would massively look at, anyway, and it's a completely different situation this year than last year where somebody else won the tournament to get quite close to me.

JUSTIN ROSE: Not close enough.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: You know it's going to get somewhere near, but that would -- if I was to win the tournament, there's a lot of things that have to happen before that. You know, just concentrate on keep doing the things I've been doing. I've been doing so many good things and the one thing that's been missing is kind of putting four rounds together. That for now is my sort of immediate thoughts is to just keep doing the same things and hopefully winning time, it might be this week, it might not be, but that will happen. I'll be able to put it all together and win a tournament again.

Q. Now that you've played quite a bit in America, how would you compare your experiences in America versus Europe and other places abroad, differences and similarities?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: A good question. It was for me personally, this is my seventh season maybe on The European Tour, so actually playing like a rookie season on the PGA TOUR, it was nice meeting new people, playing new golf courses and experiencing things for the first time again.

It's definitely a slightly different style of golf in America. Different -- it requires different aspects of your game at times. It's definitely improved me as a golfer, even just being out there for one year. It's been nice playing that worldwide schedule and playing in America on different grasses and different types of courses that we don't play in Europe a lot.

Similarities are that in general, a good swing and a good shot does the job. That's just something that you've got to keep in mind when you are playing everywhere.

Q. First of all, congratulations on the great Ryder Cup. Coming back to your American schedule, what are you playing in America this year and what's your schedule looking like, please?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: It's either going to, I will start -- I play the Middle East and I will either start at Pebble Beach or Genesis but we are not sure yet and I'll play quite a run. We still haven't fully finalised exactly what I'll do, but once I start at that point, I'll try to play quite a lot through. And with the different timings of certain events, there's quite a lot going on and quite a big stretch until you get to September until the year ends.

It will be nice, again, there's definitely four or five, six tournaments that I'll play that I've never played before. So again, I've got that to look forward to, new golf courses and new venues again, which will be nice.

Q. All the previous hosts of the British Masters have been quite old, let's face it. Sorry, Justin.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Some more than others.

JUSTIN ROSE: He said quite. I can live with that.

Q. How proud are you to be hosting such a big event in your relatively tender years, and is it going to be difficult to sort of juggle that with having a major immediately after that?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: I don't know, I mean, first of all, it's a massive honor to host the event. We were talking -- we've been in talks for a little bit about maybe doing it in 2019 or 2020. We didn't know when it was going to be, so it's great to do that.

And if you do look at the hosts that have been, still as a -- I mean, I'm still a golfer at the end of the day, so to actually be on the list of the names that are posted is very special for me. It will be even more so. I am very proud of where I'm from, so to have it in my hometown in south port on a great golf course will be great.

It's nice. It's nice to have your name on the tournament, and the tournament is a very historic event. It was actually my first ever European event I played in when I was 17 as an amateur at The Belfry, so it's got like a few connections for me.

It's still quite a big task following Justin. He did such a good job, quite a big task. It will be nice --

JUSTIN ROSE: I couldn't arrange the weather.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: No, that was the least enjoyable part of it.

We'll work on things, and the schedule, it's clearly a tricky time with the major being the week after it but I'm sure we'll do everything we can to try to get the fields that we'd like.

Q. The No. 1 ranking has changed hands quite a few times this year. Do you think we're in an era where it will be hard for anyone to keep ahold of it for an extended period of time?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, yeah, clearly at the moment, there's four guys with a win can probably take it. So I think unless someone really goes ahead and putts a run together, which is possible, someone is going to need to win maybe two or three times in quick success to build that buffer, to build that lead where you can hang on to it for half a year.

But to see someone hang on to it for two years, three years like we have seen in the past -- DJ has done an incredible job. He's racked up an incredible amount of weeks. It's been, 60, 70 weeks or something. He's really done a great job of holding on to it. It's very competitive.

I think we are seeing the Tiger effect come through now with your Jordan Spieths and Justin Thomases, etc., etc., coming through to the top of the game having being influenced so much by Tiger. I think the strength and depth now is pretty impressive, and there's a lot of guys earning a lot of points.

It's nip and tuck. Of course, there's so many great talents out there and they are capable of great stretches of golf. To see someone have it for two, three years, might be tricky but I think certainly someone can win two or three times like that and build the lead for six months quite easily.

Q. (Would you please tell us what you like most about the other professionally and off the course)?
JUSTIN ROSE: I like the fact that Tommy goes barefoot on the beach yesterday. He wears slippers down to dinner. He's just got that laid back coolness. And it carries over on the golf course. His temperament is unbelievable.

He's a great competitor. He works really hard and he's got great perspective, I feel. Never see him get too upset -- obviously he's upset at times on the course but it never visibly shows. His temperament for me is the type of temperament that's going to win a lot of golf tournaments and hold up in majors, more importantly.

But then from a technical point of view, I love the way he hits his irons and how everything finishes just at the right time. That tells me a lot. So if you can break your follow through like he hits that sort of solid punch shot; that means there's a ton of good things that have happened prior to. You can't control the club on the follow through unless everything is in the right place coming to impact. That's what I enjoy and try to copy a bit if I'm honest.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD: The first biggest compliment I could give him professionally is that I mean, we've spent a lot of time together over the course of the last two years, and without a doubt, I've become a better golfer because I've spent time with Justin Rose.

Watching how he goes about things, his professionalism, how he strives to be better every day, pretty much, and for me, I might not tell him all the time but I do feel very fortunate that I can call him a friend and that I can spend as much time with him as I do.

Personally, we are quite close and he's a great person to spend time with, he really is. Him and his family, Kate and the kids, you know, me and clear, we've had a great time with them. Lotte was Clare's bridesmaid at our wedding. Yeah, we're quite close.

Q. For both of you. Speaking of Tiger, how surprising or unsurprising are you of his, if we may call it, his resurrection, his amazing come back so far? Surprising? Unsurprising?
JUSTIN ROSE: I'll go quickly. I would say it's become surprising. I think three or four years ago, I said, of course he's going to come back, and then there was a period of time I think after the second or third surgery, it was beginning to not look great for him now. I just thought, physically can he come back. I always thought talent-wise, mentally, sure, he would have a go, but physically, could he do it.

It's great to see him come back and to come back in the fashion he has been very impressive. He's been knocking on the door all year in terms of winning. He's been playing some great golf. His iron game has been is as good as it's ever been.

I think there's been a lot of talk about his putting this year, but when I've played with him, his stroke looks fantastic and I thought he's putted beautifully every time I've been around him.

To win at East Lake is a course -- if he had won at Doral or if he had won at Bay Hill or somewhere where he's had a ton of success, you could say, okay, well, he knows those golf courses.

But for me winning at East Lake was quite poignant, winning at a golf course where historically he has not had a ton of success. It shows that the level of come back is really strong, and he's got new facets and new aspects to his game I think.

Q. Who do you want to be the next Ryder Cup Captain?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD: Who do we want? I have no preference, at all. Who do I think, I think from what it looks like, P√°draig might be the frontrunner, but I really don't know at all, and I have no -- literally have zero preference at the moment at all. It's awhile away.

I think there's a few guys that would do an amazing job, and just from my experience, any of the vice captains that I had in my one Ryder Cup that I've played, would be a fantastic asset to Europe.

So yeah, maybe from what I've read or heard, P√°draig looks like the frontrunner.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I'd go with P√°draig. I think it's his time. Obviously there's a sequence of guys who are eligible for it and then you've got to think down the line who is going to be next and where the next crop of players fall in. There's a bunch of guys who deserve it but there's not enough Ryder Cups for everybody to get it.

I think with someone like P√°draig who is a three-time Major Champion, his record certainly suggests that he deserves it. Like Tommy says, I think he's been brilliant in the team room in his of vice captain role. No job is too small. He's happy to muck in and do the most menial of task or the biggest of tasks.

I heard a story this week, Thorbj√łrn -- hope I'm not speaking out of turn, but when he was like very disappointed about not playing on the Saturday, P√°draig was the one that was around him for most of that day and made his day much better, much easier. I think that's a big task. I think he handles his jobs as vice captain really well and the players respond and respect that. It bodes well for a captaincy.

NEIL AHERN: Thank you very much, guys, and have a great week.

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