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July 16, 2019

Justin Rose

Portrush, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

STUART MOFFAT: It's my pleasure to welcome the 2013 U.S. Open champion, Justin Rose, to the interview room.

Welcome to Royal Portrush. You recorded your best ever finish last year at Carnoustie. How confident are you feeling about your chances this week and going one step further?

JUSTIN ROSE: Finally I bettered my position as a 17-year-old amateur last year, which was exciting. I've been waiting a long time to do that. Really enjoyed the run I made on the weekend last year. Anytime you're in contention to win an Open it's an amazing feeling, especially being a home player. I think it's the one that we all dearly love to win. That was fun.

Yeah, that's the goal, isn't it, to go one better this year and get your hands on the Jug.

Game is ticking along in the right direction. I'm chipping away at it. I feel like sometimes if you come in absolutely pure a week or two ahead of time, it can be tricky to keep it going for so long. I feel like I can really build into this week.

Links golf isn't always about being perfect either. It's about learning the golf course. I came up Wednesday, Thursday, Friday last week to really try to understand the golf course and how to get around here.

So far we haven't seen much in the way of weather but that could obviously change.

Q. Talk about last year. What did you do differently last year that worked for you at The Open and what can you take from that to bring to this year?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, obviously I had to make about a 15-footer to make the cut on Friday afternoon or Friday evening. So I wasn't doing a lot different at that point. But I think going out there and free-wheeling a little bit on Saturday.

Links courses offer you sometimes the opportunity to play aggressively, if you have nothing to lose. They're all about avoiding the bunkers. But just typically if you're in contention there's a lot of irons off the tee, you're always trying to avoid the pot bunkers. But there's always the opportunity to force the issue and try to get some wedges in your hand.

I played a little bit more aggressively on Saturday. And the I had the nice run on Sunday, eagled 14. And I did a good job when the moment arose staying free and playing -- just because I then suddenly had a chance. I played freely all weekend long, basically.

And then I remember four holes to play I really told myself to stay as free as I could, and I did a good job of that coming in and birdied 18 to, at the time, post a number that felt relevant. And Francesco, obviously, I think he birdied 18 to win by two in the end. But his drive skirted the right-hand bunker, and I think there were two or three other guys in second place. I was there or thereabouts, which was great.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, definitely it was more of the intention, for sure. Just obviously be focused and be disciplined with the preparation and the game plan but not be reckless. I'm not going to go out and hit drivers day one. But I'm going to play -- you can still play with freedom even though you're playing with respect to the golf course.

Q. A lot has been made, quite rightly, of The Open coming back to Portrush after such a long time. What, if anything, feels different about an Open being here, from your experience so far?
JUSTIN ROSE: It feels very different. I had the opportunity to spend a little bit of time up here, and frequent the Harbour Bar in Portrush. And I just think that people are very proud of their little piece of the world up here. And it is very special. The golf courses are unbelievable.

But the hospitality I think is fantastic up here. Everyone has been really welcoming. And that seemed -- because it has been so long, people have been very excited about it. That feels different.

But yeah, it feels a little bit different up here, for sure, than the routine venues that we're used to in the rotation.

Q. Actually that was more or less my question was to ask you about the friendliness, to what extent does the course feel friendly and the place itself?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, the course hopefully will become feeling friendly. That's probably more my doing. But the rest of it is obviously the local people's doing.

And like I just said, the hospitality here is unbelievable. People are excited to see all the pros in town. For example, I had a few Guinnesses the other night and people would come up and ask for a quick photograph. But no one was really overly -- they were letting me enjoy myself without overdoing it, I suppose.

But everyone -- it was just nice to be there in town and enjoy everyone's company.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JUSTIN ROSE: I think so, just felt cheery, but it felt -- well, I don't know if it was just my perspective on it. I just really enjoyed being in town with everybody. It was probably more my lens than anything else.

Q. I know it depends a lot on the wind, I was wondering if you could give us any insight into your game plan approaching the 18th hole. Do you think you're going to hit driver into the tighter part of the fairway there or lay further back? Just wondering how you'll approach that hole?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think I've only really played it with no wind is what it feels like. And 300 yards is a good number off that tee. There's still plenty of room at 300. Now, 300 down a little bit of a breeze is probably an iron.

But I thought it was a 3-wood hole for me. Because you want to be far enough on that hole to be able to get a full, clear sight of the green. It makes it a much more inviting second shot.

It's a great hole if you have four to win. By hitting an iron, even if you pull it left, you're not reaching the trouble. Obviously if you hit driver and pull it left you are reaching the trouble. So I feel like 3-wood was a hedge there somewhere in the middle. But if you need birdie to force a playoff, for example, you'd probably hit driver.

I don't know where the wind is forecast to come from. I thought it was going to be a southeast wind direction the last I looked, but I think it's coming a bit more out of the west. I haven't quite figured it out.

I'm going to play nine holes this afternoon with the intention of really trying to understand the forecast and how holes might play.

Q. You made a couple of fairly major changes over the last year with your equipment manufacturer and your caddie. What effect has that had and are things sort of starting to bed down just in time for The Open?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, for sure. The changes certainly with the equipment felt like they bedded in really, really quickly. I was testing as early as June last year. So I've been hitting the clubs for a long time.

Q. Was that a commercial decision or sporting decision or a bit of both?
JUSTIN ROSE: That was a sporting decision. I really think that the -- the little bit of flexibility I have within the contract, ten clubs I get to use, that gives me wiggle room. It gave me the ability to change putters, which is something I really wanted to do. The putter that I've switched to has sort of a proprietary technology that I thought could really help me. And I was forbidden for using that under my previous arrangement.

So I really looked at it. What could be the scenarios for me to try and be the best player I can be in the next 3, 4, 5, 6 years. And I think switching to Honma gave me that. They gave me everything I wanted in terms of reassurance. The masters craftsmen in Sakata, Japan, can pretty much make me anything that I want. But the line that they've come out with is unbelievable. The driver -- that was the gamble, so to speak, and it's been surprisingly good.

That's been fantastic. So I don't feel like I've given up anything anywhere from that point of view.

The caddie situation was something that was a bit unforeseen. Fulch obviously went through heart surgery. It's just a tough situation, I suppose. And Lordie has stepped up. Fulch and Lordie have a great dialogue between them. Whether Lordie is just taking care of the bag for Fulch for the future or not remains to be seen. But I hope there's a situation in the future where we can all work together.

Yeah, that's something I had to adapt to. Yeah, the changes you make it with the best intentions, but it still is change at times. To answer your question, I feel comfortable with it all. Now it's up to me to go execute.

That's probably been more of the problem, really. I've been just looking for the game and looking for the right gear, really, I suppose, the last month or two.

Q. Nine out of the last ten majors have been won by Americans. I wonder if you could offer any insight or explanation into the recent emergence of that trend?
JUSTIN ROSE: The boys are pretty good, there's no doubt. I think that the aggressive style of golf that they've been playing has sort of contributed to that. Obviously Brooks has had a fair few of those. So he's obviously on an awesome run.

But other than that, I don't really think there's a reason why. Obviously Francesco, I could have easily won the last time out at Pebble. Rory is a threat whenever he wants. So, yeah, it's a cycle. And hopefully that's a nice run and hopefully it's coming to an end.

Q. You said to us before that you think being a multiple major winner gives you a completely different standing to winning one major. How would you evaluate your own career to add The Open Championship to the one you've already got?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think if you won both Opens, essentially, that's a lovely pair, no doubt. That would be halfway towards a Grand Slam. If I was able to do that then I would immediately shift to I'm 50 percent of the way there.

The next one is really important for me, because it makes the next two feel possible. When you're a quarter of the way there, looking at it, it's quite an uphill climb. But when you're halfway you're kind of at the tipping point.

But for sure the next major is going to be an important one for me.

Q. When you won the first one, do you think you'd wait this long to not win another? Does that surprise you?
JUSTIN ROSE: It doesn't surprise me. They are hard to win, and you've seen great players not win one. I'm still obviously grateful to have that major under my belt. Certainly I've had three second-place finishes in majors since then.

I've had a couple of opportunities, for sure. Augusta, that was one arm-in-the-jacket type situation. But you never skip through a career without a little bit of heartache along the way.

I feel like I'd like maybe a couple more chances, but I've definitely given myself some looks. And if I keep doing that I know, the door will open again.

Q. You have one year away from defending your own big title. As of now, how important is Tokyo Olympic to you, and how important is this week considering the Olympic?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think obviously I know the Olympics isn't a major, but it's almost being treated like one from the crowd and people I come into contact with on a daily basis.

Even though maybe I haven't won a major since Merion, I think the Olympic gold has been a very nice addition to the career and résumé.

For sure 2020 Tokyo is going to be a huge priority. Right now it's still very much over a year a way. So it's not in my mind, but very much focusing on the major championships this year. But certainly to be a two-time Olympic champion, to wrap up an eight-year cycle, would be unbelievable.

I think golf in Tokyo is going to be well supported by all of the top players, in my opinion, this time around. I think it's going to be a fantastic showcase for golf.

Q. Just a quick one, is it a myth or does the Guinness really taste different over here?
JUSTIN ROSE: Whether it's your first or one of a very few, it does taste different up here, yeah. I'm not experienced enough to really make that -- but I think the environment helps, no doubt.

Q. A secret weapon this week, you think?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, one and done.

That's why I like coming up to these places before the tournament starts. Once championship week rolls around, you're in bed early. You're in your disciplined approach that you are all the time. But it's such a shame to come to these venues and not be able to enjoy them. Sometimes that is the case. When you're a professional golfer you have to stay focused, I suppose.

So when I do come up for these preparation trips, they do feel like mini boys' trips, you can play a bit of golf. You have Portrush to yourself in Open Championship condition, and you get to go to the pub and have one or two. Who wouldn't want to do that?

Q. Guinness is full of iron, it could propel you on.
JUSTIN ROSE: I like the way you're angling for your headline here (laughter).

Q. You've spoken about wanting to play more freely and certainly start this week playing that way. I'm wondering what you're doing on and off the course to help that along?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, off the course is an important part of it, just to enjoy the week. I have my family here as well this week. My little boy has suddenly gone cricket mad, after the World Cup. He's in the garden until the sun goes down. He says, Dad, can you bowl a few at me? That kind of thing.

For example, if you're in contention, it's a great distraction to take your mind off the golf and just enjoy having your family around, that helps you stay loose and stay free.

But there's nothing really, nothing else really matters until you get on that first tee, and that's when you've got to just make that shift. I'm experienced enough to know sleep on a lead, I can do that, no problem. That's not going to be a factor.

It's about execution. You give yourself that opportunity to win, it's about hitting the right shot at the right time, that's what it comes down to.

Q. Do you have a go-to moment or a trick when you walk on that first tee to get you in that mindset?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, just the good old cliches, one shot at a time. Not getting too far ahead of yourself. But yeah, for me it's about trusting your training, trusting your routine.

I learned -- not learned, but I realized at Pebble that I didn't do a good enough job early in the round of basically zoning in enough. There was a lot of distraction during that round. And I just didn't do a good enough job of basically blocking it out.

So that will be something that I will be aware of. You're always learning. For the most part you trust yourself as a champion to know you've done it before, you can do it and just to go out and execute.

Q. You've had a few practice rounds under your belt now, I wanted to ask you how you've played the 17th in practice and what your strategy for it might be during the week?
JUSTIN ROSE: It's an interesting hole, especially for a 17th hole of an Open. I feel like it's a quirky hole, for sure, because it's not really drivable. You hit driver over the top there about 300 yards and it gets down within 20, 30 yards of the green. It plays quite narrow because of the way the camber tilts right-to-left. You've got to really thread the driver up the right edge of the fairway to get it down short of the green there. But it's very tempting. If the wind is -- unless the wind is hurting I'll hit driver. Pin placements will be a factor. I think the only tricky pin if you do hit driver is the left pin where they can stick it behind the bunker, that may be better to lay up on top of the hill and have something where you can control your spin coming into that pin. But it's a really sort of unique hole, especially at that point of the championship.

Q. Is the ambition to play well enough this week to get Leo to pick up a golf club instead of a cricket bat?
JUSTIN ROSE: That would be nice for sure, although it's proved quite difficult, to be honest.

Q. Four weeks not playing coming into that event, I would imagine that's unchartered territory going into a major, what was the thinking and are there any concerns?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, I think we're all trying to adapt to this new schedule, this new rhythm of the majors, and they seem to be coming thick and fast at the moment. It's about trying to peak, valley, and peak again. In such a short period of time in which you're able to do that. There's always that drop off after a major, from an intensity point of view, anyway. This is unchartered territory for me to take time off between majors, for sure. It coincides with coming back to the UK. There's pressure with catching up with family, and wanting to catch up with family, those weeks are precious. It's just a balance at that point in terms of professional, strategy in terms of preparing for it and then also just lifestyle and having a life and seeing family and friends that you haven't seen for a long time.

So it's a learning curve this year I would say. So we will see.

Q. On the schedule how much of all of that is all sort of with the majors in mind and do you feel like coming up to this point now you sort of have it all figured out or is it still sort of a trial and error period of figuring out what's going to work?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think it's trial and error figuring out what's going to work. One major a month really I think is too -- in my opinion they're too soon.

Q. Why?
JUSTIN ROSE: It's too condensed. Just the -- as a professional in terms of trying to peak for something, the process that's involved in trying to do that can be detailed and it can be longer than a month. So that's my reasoning for that.

But I also think it's pretty much driven by FedExCup, wanting to finish on a certain date, everything else having to fit in where it can.

For me a major championship should be the things that are protected the most. That's how all of our careers ultimately are going to be measured. 30, 40 years ago there wasn't a FedExCup so if you're trying to compare one career to another career, Jack versus Tiger, it's the majors that are -- they're the benchmarks. For them to be tweaked so much I think is quite interesting at this point.

Q. As an Englishman how much inspiration do you draw from the cricket success and are you comfortable going to extra time yourself if needed this week, the stress of that?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, obviously if you look at -- well, you could look at sort of Federer/Djokovic's, as essentially as extra time. It was a hell of a day of sport. I was running between two different rooms, watching cricket, tennis, cricket, tennis.

To your point earlier what you're asking me, it comes down to execution in the moment. That's what wins a tournament or doesn't win a tournament. Whether it's extra time or the 72nd hole there's going to become a point that you're going to win a tournament that you have to pull off the right shot at the right time. It doesn't matter for me when it is.

Q. You talk about the importance of changing clubs and getting them absolutely right. Did you ever at any time in your career have a club that you couldn't bare to part with?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, not really. Probably when I was -- maybe when I was back about 14. I had a Ram Zebra putter that I seemed to make a lot of putts with back then. I've always been very open to change. And I've always believed that unless you make -- you can get away with not changing your clubs once a year. But clubs and technology is changing so fast or at least has changed so fast in the last ten years you can't get away with making changes every two years or you're going to be behind the curve. Someone else is going to have an advantage. For me I've always been quite keen to change and move with the times in terms of technology. From that point of view I've never fallen in love necessarily with a putter or a particular club. The putter is one exception that technology you don't need as much of.

Q. Did you throw away that little putter or where is it?
JUSTIN ROSE: It's -- no, I have it somewhere. It's with about nine million other putters, you're always looking for the secret of putting, you always want something that's going to get in the ball in the hole for you. But ultimately it comes down to you.

STUART MOFFAT: Best of luck this week.

JUSTIN ROSE: Thank you.

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