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April 8, 2019

Justin Rose

Augusta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, it's our pleasure to welcome Justin Rose to the press room.
Justin, as of yesterday, you're back at No. 1 player in the world. Congratulations.
JUSTIN ROSE: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: You've had several strong finishes here at Augusta National, including runner‑up finishes in 2015 and 2017 and five Top‑10s. Tell us about your preparations coming in this year, and especially having your caddie, Mark Fulcher back on the bag after being out three months with heart surgery.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, thanks, it's always great being back this time of year. Yeah, Fooch is back this week which has been sort of a long awaited arrival for him. I know time has been going very slowly for him and he's been chomping at the bit to get back, but he's stayed very much integrated and engaged in my game, one of his best mates out here on Tour is Gareth Lord; and they have been communicating a lot with what has been going on and Fooch has come down to see me on my weeks off on a couple of occasions. Once he knew he was looking good to caddie this week, which was his ultimate goal, he came out to Austin, Texas to get some of the back slapping out of the way and hey, Fooch, how you doing, out of the way, so he could focus on business this week, which was smart of him.
I'm excited. You mentioned the world No. 1, that's obviously cool but that was a fun little story that, Fooch said to Lordy, you've got one job, just give him back to me as world No. 1. The fact that the ranking switched this week was kind of a nice touch.

Q. Your record here, as just alluded to, is so good. What comfort did you get early here and what comfort came late?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think the comfort came pretty early. I was 22 years old I think in 2003 when I played my first Masters and I was paired with Adam Scott and Charles Howell, two good friends of my out on Tour and I had a tough two‑putt on No. 9 to make the cut, I was on the wrong tier and I had to two‑put it.
Because when you come to the Masters or certainly back in the day if felt like, if you make the cut as a first timer, that's a good result and that's what happened for me in my first Masters, made the cut and kind of felt like, oh, that was a good positive experience and thoroughly enjoyed it.
And then I think it was 2004, I was leading through two rounds, shot a great first round, backed it up with a good second round and then shot 81 on the third day, which was obviously disappointing but just really taught me a lot about this golf course. Gave me such great valuable experience and insights into how to play it, how not to play it and how it can kind of trick you and bully you a little bit at times.
So a couple of awesome experiences really early, and then from that point on, I've just continued to be learning and trying to apply what I've learned year‑on‑year, and you know, in recent years, yeah, I've given myself a couple good chances being in that final group on Sunday and playing well on both occasions and came up against Jordan in 2015 who was making everything and Sergio and I, it was a coin flip who was going to come out on top there.
Yeah, just once of those places, that I guess you just‑‑ I get insight‑‑ guys talk about a course that fits their eye and I think this is one for me that I like all the shots out there.

Q. Do you find when it's a close one like it was with Sergio in 2017, did you find yourself thinking about it more the next morning, or, say, six months from then?
JUSTIN ROSE: You know, I felt like that was the first major I've been close to and not won, really, like a heartbreaker. So that was the first.
I think I took comfort in the fact that you can't get through a career without something like that happening. So just deal with it and move on. You're not the first person, you won't be the last, so just kind of get on with it. So that was my attitude to it and it never really, I wouldn't, I feel like I woke up and I wasn't missing anything, but then when something would trigger a memory, it would be, it was a bit of a downer maybe for maybe a few months there.
It just taught me, when you win a tournament, when you win a tournament, you need that little bit of luck on your side, and I think I had it. I've had it many times in my career. Henrik Stenson, he pointed out in Rio, I rode my luck against him a couple times, skipped my ball through a few fairways and bushes here and there and came out on top. Sergio had a break on 13; the way it goes sometimes when you win.
Henrik, my point of the story, Henrik pointing that out to me made it easier to accept and swallow, that I've had my moments where I've ridden my luck and this was one that maybe just kind of went against me. But you've got to keep putting yourself in those positions.

Q. You've done so well here for so long. Where's your confidence level as you begin practice rounds this year?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, confidence is up there for sure. I feel like I've had a decent year so far. I've had enough good golf to give me confidence and I've had enough poor golf to keep me working hard, which is sometimes a good place to be, as well, because you know, if the game comes sometimes too easily and results are just happening, you can sometimes‑‑ you don't get lazy by any means, but you don't quite know where the next level for improvement is. You're not forced to look inward, and I had a bit of a bad run coming off a month off Bay Hill, first round of PLAYERS, three bad rounds in a row which lit a fire under me to start working hard and I've started to see the results as of late.

Q. Wonder if you could speak to the intimidation factor of the very first hole here, how difficult it is, why it's difficult, the atmosphere of it, as well.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, so it's a really good tee shot for a start. The bunker is just in the right spot. If you hit 3‑wood, you can keep it short of the bunker, but then you've got obviously an extra 20 or 30 yards off an upslope into maybe a semi‑blind green.
If you hit driver, the fairway narrows. The left trees can come in, if you try and avoid the bunker, pretty quickly. So the tee shot's just perfect from that point of view.
Then the second shot really is, you can hit it into the middle of the green and if there's any pin sort of on the front side, front left, you've got a really, really tough two‑putt. And if you miss the green, it's such a tough green to up‑and‑down the ball. I think that's the point. The strategy there for me is the middle of the green and do your best to two‑putt it and walk to the second hole.

Q. World No. 1s, oddly enough, struggle here a little bit, it's been quite a long time since a world No. 1 won. Does that status prey on your mind when you're out there, or is it just sort of an historical oddity?
JUSTIN ROSE: DJ has been the No. 1 predominately in the last year and a half. So I think the weeks that I am No. 1, it's really cool. I feel like I haven't had my run yet where I've sort of separated myself as the No. 1 player in the world. That's a goal of mine, still. So I don't look at it that way, really, at all. So no one's really being that dominant right now. I think if anyone's been dominant, it's been Rory in the last sort of couple of months.
Hence, why the ranking between Brooks, myself, Dustin, even going back to Justin Thomas, it's bounced around a lot. From that point of view, I'm not going to take on that story.

Q. You spoke of learning the course. How much of that education involved the greens, and is there ever a point where a player really feels like you have these things figured out?
JUSTIN ROSE: You never do because things change just suddenly throughout the week. So you can have it dialed in, you feel like, on Thursday, maybe, and then by Sunday, it can be a different golf course. You can never really learn the read on a putt because, you know, if the greens roll a foot quicker on the weekend, the break is double on occasion. You know, certainly if you have a putt that's two feet of break, it's now breaking maybe three feet, just with the speed of the greens. So you can never really get completely comfortable, but I think the experience tells you of knowing which putts to respect and maybe where to make a good calculated guess on the break, where to play a little higher and dial it in, so experience really plays a part.
I don't think you can ever really have it 100 percent figured out.

Q. Curious about your initial impressions of No. 5. And also, given the added degree of difficulty there, how does that little corner of the golf course of 4, 5, 6, compare in difficulty to a more famous one, Amen Corner?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think 4 and 5 have historically been some of the tougher holes on the golf course, for sure. I think No. 5 is probably going to play the toughest hole now for sure.
For me I always felt like No. 6 on the back end, and even No. 1, if you look at No. 1 being a tough hole; if you can get it through six holes even par, it's a great start. Even 1‑over par through six, it's a great start.
That's going to be even more so this year, given the fifth hole changing. I hit 4‑iron today and hit a good drive. That makes it much tougher because I feel like now you're having to maybe think about‑‑ especially, there's a bit of rain coming possibly but if it did firm up a touch, now you're thinking about hitting a long iron and kind of running it up a bit more links style up on to that green, where the hole was just short enough before where you were always hitting a mid‑iron, 7‑iron, 6‑iron, and always trying to land it up on the top for the most part.
Only if you were out of position were you having to run it up that ridge. I think the extra length, you might see more links style running shots. That's how I see the design of it, anyway. Whether the conditions allow that, we'll see.

Q. You've played here so many times and you've played Augusta National really well and Fooch has been with you most of the times. Does he still surprise you on the golf course by some of his nuggets or some of his wisdom on the golf course, and how much of a help will he be, even though you are playing, I don't know, since the last 17 years on this golf course?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think‑‑ I feel like we've learned together so much here, I wouldn't expect a nugget of information I don't know to come out during practice.
Where Fooch is going to earn his money and earn his position on the bag and earn his importance on the team is on Saturday and Sunday. Basically when emotions start to get more intense and there's more variability from that point of view, that's when I'm going to rely on him more and more. I think very much, I'm very comfortable.
If I had anybody caddie for me Thursday, Friday, I would probably be in very good shape and be very comfortable. It's when the going gets tough, that's when I think someone who knows you so well and we have so many positive experiences out there under pressure that we can draw on together; that's where Fooch is going to come into his own for me.

Q. When you've been No. 1 on several occasions do you ever get blasť about that achievement or do you make a point of reminding yourself that being the best at something on the planet is quite an achievement?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, you certainly don't get blasť about it, but I don't think I ever stopped telling myself of how you get to No. 1 and that's by moving forward and continuing to improve and get good results.
You know, I have won as world No. 1, which is something that was important me. I was able to do that in San Diego this year, but clearly to win a major as No. 1 would be even more fantastic. So you know, use it as maybe a little inspiration, maybe not as expectation, I don't think.
But no, I feel‑‑ I always look at myself and think, okay, I can still get better, yes, I can. That's what really motivates me is finding gaps in my game and trying to fill those gaps. The ranking is a moment in time where I've just done a better job than everybody else over a two‑year period. It's not that reflective in terms of this minute. It's a two‑year reflection.
So I look at the next two years, and how can I improve on the previous two.

Q. Do you have a number in mind of major titles you feel you should win that would satisfy you based on your talent?
JUSTIN ROSE: I would take four, as long as it's one of each, that would be awesome. That would be enough. That would be great.
I'd love just to say the word "multiple" to be honest with you. I've got one. I've seen some guys go through a career and not be able to get that elusive first major and no doubt it's a hole in the gap of any career if you don't get it done, but certainly I'd love to say‑‑ I'd love to use the word "multiple" and then we'll keep staying motivated and keep trying to push the boundaries from there.

Q. With regard to Corey Conners' win yesterday in San Antonio I just wonder how much you paid attention to that and his story and Monday qualifying and getting the last invite here and what your appreciation of that as a golf fan is?
JUSTIN ROSE: I saw the last few holes and he made some clutch putts and great swings down the stretch. I actually didn't realize how‑‑ what a roller coaster of a day he had. I checked the scores with four or five holes to play and that's about the only time I watch golf is the last four or five holes, because that's the only time I can really learn from other guys on Tour and see what I'm going up against.
It was great to see his wife's reaction out there. I loved the cameras being out there and you could tell what a big moment it was for the two of them. It was very special to see those stories out there because winning is difficult and it's nice to see it when it does change someone's life, so to speak. The status that he's now going to have guaranteed for a couple of years is huge. He's a lovely guy. I don't know him well but the few interactions I've had with him, he seems a lovely guy. I was rooting for him for sure, and yeah, just ten birdies, I think it was on Sunday, unbelievable.

Q. The big events, Merion, Gold Medal, FedExCup. What do you know about yourself and those big events that you would have told a 25‑year‑old Justin Rose?
JUSTIN ROSE: Belief, I guess. I believe I can do it. I think until you've done it, sometimes those achievements, they seem insurmountable at times. Especially when you're not on top of your game.
You know, winning a major or winning a FedExCup, or you said Gold Medal; that's an opportunity that doesn't come around every day. When you're playing well, those don't seem so so far away. But that's what I've learned, you're never really more than one swing away or one round away from changing everything and finding your confidence and getting on a run.
Should I go through another brief dip in form, I'll always realize that they are possible and those dreams are out there and those results are still possible and just to kind of keep believing.
As a 25‑year‑old, you hope, but don't necessarily believe, I think‑‑ certainly I didn't; you know you're capable of it, but again it just feels far away, and for me, I've experienced it enough times, or more than once, to realize that keep‑‑ perseverance I guess. Belief and perseverance. Perseverance is another great word for that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Justin.

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