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July 6, 2019

Robert Rock

County Clare, Republic of Ireland

Q. Six birdie finish, you had a look for 59 at 18, birdie at the end. Special day. How are you feeling right now?
ROBERT ROCK: Yeah, delighted. It was a fun day, actually. I was enjoying playing with Grant. He played really well, actually and that helped. Made quite a lot of birdies early on. I think helped to see that they were possible. And then I started putting really good.

And then the finish was a bit much, really. I had a really long putt on 17 and then when I was walking to the second shot on 18, I looked at what par was, because I had kind of forgot and realised it was an eagle for 59, which your opportunities to do that don't come hardly at all, really. That's the first chance I've had to do it. It's disappointing not to, but 60 is a great score. It's my best score.

I played rubbish so far this year, so just delighted to play better.

Q. So you weren't really aware of the number until 18?
ROBERT ROCK: Completely unaware. I thought I was 8-under, 9-under. I wasn't really adding it up because some of the long putts were going in. They felt like a bonus and didn't feel like an actual birdie, just a bit of fun.

Q. When you're putting together a very special round, how do you into the think about it, and sounds cliché, but really stay in the moment?
ROBERT ROCK: That's really difficult. Because I felt myself tying up a little bit on the par 3 and I didn't hit a great shot there, and similar to the second shot on 17. Faced with a 60-foot putt with about three different breaks in it and got over it and thought, very easy just to try and lag this up. I thought, just hit it, and I hit it, flush with the putter and hugged the ground all the way there. That's the thing you've got to try and do is let yourself play good when you are, and I've not been great at that, but that was a nice moment to actually ease off and just hit the button in terms of a tough putt. I'd have been delighted with a two-putt.

Q. We know you've been doing some great work with Matt Wallace on the coaching side of things, but nice to deliver on the European Tour and now in the Rolex Series and the position you're in, a great opportunity for Sunday?
ROBERT ROCK: It is a good opportunity. It's an opportunity to get my season back on track, to try to qualify for The Open, and maybe have a chance to win a tournament again, which would be lovely because it's been a long while.

Working with Matt and the other players, definitely helps, and I have got to give Liam James and Benn Barham a bit of credit. They have had helped me out a lot. I have quite a few players I'm working with, to do that on my own is pretty much impossible, so they have done a great job.

Q. You join the 60 club. You had a chance at 59. At what point did you know you had a chance?
ROBERT ROCK: Once the tee shot found the fairway, we were walking up, and I had a little glance at the card to check for par and I kind of thought, is it 70 or is it 71. It was nice to see that it was 70 and an eagle would possibly do it. I hit quite a good shot in, not quite what I had in mind, but it was close enough to give me a thought of it.

Yeah, decent putt, but I didn't leave it short, anyway. That would be a bit annoying, wouldn't it.

Q. What type of emotions were going through your mind? A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most players?
ROBERT ROCK: Yeah, it is, isn't it. I'm happy to say that I was actually just enjoying the day playing golf. I had a good partner in Grant. He played great. Then I started holing some really long putts at the end, which is kind of funny, really, the putts you weren't really expecting to hole. They have a lot of break in them, and just two-putting them would be good because they were average approach shots.

Yeah, so playing with him was great and just enjoying it for once this year. I mean, it's been a bit of a tough season on the course. Don't seem to have really got much out of my rounds. Some days I've played well, I've scored badly and then the days when I've played badly, I've been chipping and putting great and just shooting average scores all the time. I'd say it was unexpected, but nice.

Q. You've played well here in the past two, second places. What is it about this type of golf that inspires you?
ROBERT ROCK: It's the quality of the golf course. You have to hit good shots, and it tests your driving and your iron play. It's a great tournament. It's a tournament that I'd love to -- I've always said I'd love to win it. Maybe I have another chance to do it.

Any time you've got a chance to win a tournament like The Irish Open or Scottish Open, it really means something, so yeah, it gives me a little extra focus. But it's hard to say it makes you play great because you can't force that, but it's a great tournament and the people are amazing.

I think the quality of the golf course is just fun to play.

Q. You brought up focus, and we've talked about your coaching now, coaching a lot of the players, notably Matt Wallace. How has that changed your perspective on your own game?
ROBERT ROCK: I think it's made me realise what type of golfer I am. Maybe I'm not as -- not as good as Matt Wallace, right, that's pretty obvious but I've learnt some things from him as to how he's a really tough competitor and he's desperate to win things, which is amazing.

But it's made me think a lot more about my golf in general and different styles of play, and it keeps me thinking.

Q. You must be delighted with that 60.
ROBERT ROCK: I am. I'm delighted and surprised, and relieved and all sorts, because I've not been playing great. I felt like I've been playing okay, not really 60-good.

But a lot of today's round was steady play. A couple of good saves here and there, but great putting at the end. Over the years, it's not been my favourite, but over the last two or three seasons, I've actually fancied myself as a decent putter. So it's been great, yeah. Enjoyed it.

Q. I'd say that putt on 17 was pretty decent. Tell us about that.
ROBERT ROCK: Yeah, I hit a pretty average -- well, a really average second shot, left 60 feet, left-to-right and then over kind of a little -- up in the middle of the green and then a big right-to-left swing after that.

Then at that point, you're thinking, well, you're 3-putting this, realistic, right. If I can 2-putt, that move on to the last and maybe make a birdie at the end that would be a great day.

Then once I got over the putt, I realised that it is a hard putt, but I was putting really good. So try not to over-complicate it and just hit it. I hit it perfect and it's one of those putts that come out the middle and just nicely hugged the ground all the way there. I thought, does that mean it's going to quick?

But once it got over the middle part of the putt, it looked perfect, and kind of knew it was going to go in. So that doesn't happen very often, so that's awesome.

Q. You say that, but you've got six birdies in a row from 13. Talk us through that run.
ROBERT ROCK: Not very good at going backwards over my rounds, but I hit some good approach shots. 13, a good chip on 13 that didn't really finish very close but good putt. 14, 15, and then great putt 16, 17, and two nice shots on 18, and last one was an easy tap-in, so 29 at least for a back nine, which I don't think I've done that on the tour. 59 would have been amazing, but still, I think it's my best round by a couple.

Q. You didn't actually know that you were on for a potential 59 until you approached the green, right?
ROBERT ROCK: No. I looked at the scorecard as I walked to the second shot, and kind of had a little tally, am I 8-under, 9-under, or what's the par, and happy to see the par was 70. So eagle -- my caddie was well aware. He wasn't going to tell me but I beat him to it. Thankfully I hit a good shot and gave myself a chance for it. It was a 25-foot putt, which I actually thought I was probably going to get it, the way I had been putting, and maybe that's where I went wrong.

Q. Was there any point, particularly maybe in that back nine, where you thought, this is going to be a really, really special day?
ROBERT ROCK: No, not really. I was playing nice, and I thought it was just going to amount to a decent -- a good score. I was thinking probably 64-ish, because I didn't really work out what par was and I lost track a little bit. I was just enjoying playing.

But then when I holed a really long, stupid putt on 17, that was -- yeah, maybe it's my day today.

Q. So coming down 18, was 59 on your mind?
ROBERT ROCK: Only before -- only after I hit the tee shot and I got to the ball and worked out where we stood. It was nice actually to put that bit of pressure on my second shot and see if I could hit a decent one. It was a decent effort and left me 25 foot for 59.

Q. When you're in phase of play like that, mentally, tell me what it's like?
ROBERT ROCK: I've only done it once, so I can't speak for others. I've played really well before, and it's felt slightly different. This was more, I was just enjoying playing. Probably from the 7th or 8th onwards, me and Grant were both playing well. He was holing birdie putts and I was following him in, so that's quite fun. We had a bit of laugh and joke about that and that made it a nice day. We were both moving up the leaderboard and making a little more to put ourselves in position for tomorrow.

It was just fun and it continued. It doesn't often continue. Like sometimes you start off well and you kind of put the brakes on yourself by getting in your own way. I think maybe there is something in that, just enjoying it and keep hitting the shots and it was a good day.

Q. You've been runner-up at The Irish Open twice, ten years ago, of course.
ROBERT ROCK: Don't remind me of that one.

Q. You got the winner's cheque; you didn't win the tournament. Is it written in the stars, ten years on that you're going to go one better?
ROBERT ROCK: I'd love it to be. But that tournament, ten years ago, was still amazing when you look back. Shane did fantastic over that weekend. Played with him all weekend. He deserved to win, and he's gone on to be a fine player.

It's ten years ago. It goes quick, doesn't it. That was my first real chance of winning a tournament, and I have a couple of regrets from that, which a few decisions you make here and there that you probably would do different now.

But yeah, The Irish Open has been great to me. It's right up with ones that I'd love to win.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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