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August 21, 2019

Justin Rose

Atlanta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: We'll just keep on rolling here. It's great to have defending FedExCup champion Justin Rose back here at East Lake. Tenth TOUR Championship appearance. Justin finished in the top ten in six of those occasions. Just talk about your comfortability coming back to this venue where you've had so much success.

JUSTIN ROSE: Obviously, it's handy if you like East Lake. It's the final event of the season. There's so much on the line. To be back at a golf course that you enjoy, I think, is exciting for sure. It's a great golf course. It's one I really, really enjoy playing. It's a golf course that I think is brilliant for this final event of the year. It doesn't suit anybody. Or it suits everybody. Anybody can win on this golf course. You don't have to be a long hitter or a short hitter. You've got to hit fairways and hit quality shots into the greens, and the green complexes here are as good as anywhere.

So great golf course for us all. And like you said, I've had some good weeks here and really excited to get the week under way.

THE MODERATOR: Yesterday you had the opportunity and the honor to deliver the FedExCup back to East Lake, put it on the pedestal. What was that experience having to give it back?

JUSTIN ROSE: It was a lot more fun picking it up off the pedestal than it was putting it back down. I had the opportunity to pick it up again on Sunday. That's obviously what we're all working hard for. Yeah, to have the FedExCup trophy for a year, it means a lot. It's a huge goal for all of us out here on TOUR. Like I said to you earlier in the week, if you win one tournament, two tournaments a year, it's fantastic. A lot of us can play well on a given week, but to do it over the course of a year, it gives a lot of validation.

Yeah, that's the goal. No one's repeated. No one's been able to go back to back. There's a couple of Justins that have gone back to back, but not the same person. Obviously, with Justin Thomas' position this year, it could be a three-peat for our name, but I'm going to try and give him a run.

Q. This was kind of run up to Rory a few weeks ago, but have you ever made a cut on the number or close to it and won or came close to winning?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah. Well, last year at The Open Championship, made a putt on 18 to make the cut, about a 15-footer there, and ended up finishing second. Francesco, I think, won by two in the end, so that was close.

Definitely made runs from the cut line -- I don't think I've ever won from the cut line, but I think that Open Championship would be as close as I've got.

Q. I guess, for the times it's happened, though, you're dealing with making up usually 8, 9, 10, 11 shots in two days, now you have four. When you look at it that way, is this more wide open than it may look to the eye?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think it is for sure. I think -- the only thing about making a cut is that -- and sometimes you get those favorable conditions early on a Saturday morning, and you can go ahead and post it, post a low round. Greens can firm up on the weekend, can make it trickier for the leaders. That's the only thing that I would say is -- we all play pretty similar conditions this week with the field being so small and the tee times.

But, yes, two a day. For me, I start at 2 under, so you've look at it two a day. The way I look at is five guys are 5 under and better, one of those guys is going to play great. That puts it at maybe 13-plus. So this is a golf course where guys haven't gone terribly low over the years. But I think for me, the first day -- or for all of us guys chasing, the first day will be important. You can't give up more shots.

If I can kind of whittle into the lead, if I can pull two or three back on day one, your eye's on the prize. If I slip back 10 or 11 after day one, suddenly you're thinking about how to get the most out of the week. So day one could be obviously the most important day, and Sunday clearly.

Q. Justin, what was it like last year for you? You secure this ultimate playoff prize, and the person who won the tournament, because who it was and how long it had been since he had won, it sort of overtook the narrative. What was that like for you to be standing in your place?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, my bank manager didn't mind. Yeah, it was. It was a very interesting week because of, obviously, who won. Tiger obviously winning for the first time in a long time, it felt like, it was a great win for him. I think winning here at East Lake -- in some ways, it's not a course that he's done particularly well at for him over the years for him, so I think it really showed that his game was in a great place going forward.

Yeah, when I was tapping in to win the FedExCup, I could see the chaos streaming down the 18th fairway. I hit my putt pretty quickly actual, the two-putt, because I could see the galleries were all in the fairway. They were just sweeping down the last hole, and I kind of felt like if I knocked it three, four past, had to mark, wait for my playing partner to finish, I could be in a situation where all the chaos was on top of me. So there was a little bit of pressure to get it done quickly and get it done easily. So lagging it up to a few inches was the perfect way for me to finish.

There were a lot of people pulling for Tiger, obviously, to win both the FedExCup and the tournament. So I was going up against that as well as myself because the back nine got tricky at times. There was a situation that I couldn't win the tournament, and I was trying not to throw away the FedExCup. So it was a tricky afternoon for sure, and I didn't hit enough fairways on the back nine, which made it a grind. Fortunately, I was able to find that late birdie that I knew I needed.

I was never really actually much of a fan of switching the 9s here, to be honest with you, until I needed to make a birdie on the last hole. It was much easier playing the par 5 than the par 3, yeah.

Q. A fresh new look to the FedEx player format. What specifically do you like most about the changes, and what do you think might turn out to be a wait-and-see work in progress?
JUSTIN ROSE: Obviously, it's been an evolution since day one. We're trying to figure it out. I think that the simplicity of it is what I like about it and obviously, hopefully, that's what you guys like about it. But more importantly the fans at home and what they like about it. They can follow it much easier. Maybe you won't have that awkward moment where you've got two guys on 18, the two trophies. It's never really been a problem for me or bothered me.

But we're here to -- the FedExCup can take center stage, and I think FedEx deserves that with the amount of support and commitment and financially what they put into the TOUR. So to have the one trophy, I think is probably the right thing for them too.

I think it's all a bit more simple and easy to follow.

Q. And the stroke play side of it. The fact the leader is currently at 10 under par, you're a few back. What do you think of that whole concept?
JUSTIN ROSE: I'll see. We'll see. I get it, obviously. I think that I probably had a better chance -- if I was in the same position, I probably had a better chance to win in the old format. But I think there's much less protection now for the leading players too in terms of, if you were leading the FedExCup in the past and you had a poor week, you'd finish maybe second, possibly third in the FedExCup. You have a poor week now, you can finish 12th, 15th, 18th, 20th. So there's a lot more volatility, I think, with this format, which is what playoff golf is all about, I guess. It's the guys basically bringing their best golf when it counts the most.

You're trying to reward guys for good golf all season long. Brooks got that bonus, the Wyndham. He was the guy leading, so that's a bit of an insurance policy that, if he was to fall back during the playoffs, his regular season has been validated a little bit. But we all know the points are quadrupled. And guys like Justin Thomas, you win at the right time, and you give yourself an opportunity to win the FedExCup. But someone's going to bring it this week.

Obviously, it's going to be interesting to see if the guys behind play with more freedom. And because we play with more freedom, that helps us mentally more than starting from scratch, all of us even par. That little bit of a mentality that you have to go and get after it. You know, it will be a learning curve for us all, but I think that I can see that sort of playing out a little bit. Guys being a little bit more -- throwing darts a little bit more early in the tournament. We'll see.

Q. Justin, how would you compare the pressure of trying to win $10 million -- actually, I guess it would have been $7 million, the difference between first and second -- to what you faced when you first turned pro and you weren't winning anything. Is there -- can you square that up at all?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, sure. I mean, I think -- yeah, weirdly, it was first or third for me. The way the points worked, that one birdie or bogey was first or third. Listen, it was a big difference and $10 million is an amount of money that I've never really had to play for before. So it gets in your head a little bit. It's a huge reward, huge pot of gold at the end. But I think -- you know, I've always played to win and also for pride. There's no doubt, when I was struggling in my career and trying to justify myself and justify my decision to turn pro, when I was going through all those missed cuts, I felt like there was more self-induced pressure there.

I mean, this is the very top end of the game we're talking about, winning the FedExCup. Last year was unbelievable, but when you're playing well, the pressure is so much more easy to absorb. When you're playing poorly, the pressure is way different. It seemed insurmountable at times because you're not as confident in your skill set. When you're playing great, bring on the pressure, because I know I'm playing well, and I know I've got what it takes to come through on top.

So very different mindsets when you're playing poorly under pressure and playing well under pressure.

Q. Do you recall any financial burdens for yourself during that time? Obviously, you're traveling. You've got expenses. You're young, teenager really still. And at some point, you probably want to see some reward.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah. Always remember having enough to sort of get to the next tournament. The sponsorship -- so it was actually interesting. I didn't sign a deal right after Birkdale, which I probably should have done. I should have had a couple of weeks, let everything solidify, pen a couple of deals, and go out and play a little freer. I felt like every round of golf that I played for those first few weeks out on TOUR, I felt like I was influencing or affecting my value, right? Because there was a lot of reports about going to make a bunch of money, blah, blah, blah. We've all seen it before with other players. But the fact that I didn't sign anything, I found that maybe added to the pressure I felt on the golf course, which was interesting.

So management-wise at the beginning, I don't think it was all done as good as it could have been, and I think that ultimately affected -- well, it made it just a bit harder for me to go out and focus on the golf, which I was so young and naive, I didn't know what to expect. Yeah, I don't know the exact point of the question, but they were tricky days. But they make you appreciate the moments like winning FedExCup. To be able to look back and think, wow, we've come this far. That it hasn't always been easy, I think makes these moments much sweeter.

But also having been through the tough times early in my career and subsequently since for periods of time, I never get ahead of myself. I never get too overconfident, or it never stops me working hard because I know the other side isn't that far away.

Q. Justin, you're going to need some birdies this week, and other than the par 5s, what holes do you see as birdie holes? And then second question, what will you do next week and subsequent weeks? Will you be back in Europe and supporting the European Tour and the Race to Dubai?
JUSTIN ROSE: Sure. I feel like, if you put it in the fairway this week, pretty much all holes can be birdie holes. The greens, I see -- depending if we get any rain, the greens could firm up a little bit. But right now they're still somewhat under control. Even with the mid-irons, you feel like you could go flag hunting a little bit. So it's all about putting the ball in the fairway. If you're not in the fairway, you're grinding for pars around here. That will be first and foremost is get the ball in play, and then you can be aggressive. There's a lot of holes out here that will play like that. There's probably four or five holes you have to respect. And the rest of them, you're going to try to put the ball in play and be aggressive on the front foot.

Yeah, then after I'm done with this, I'm going to spend a valuable sort of ten days or so at home and head back to Europe for a bit. I've got a run of tournaments there. I play in Wentworth and the Dunhill Links, and then a friend of mine gets married. And then I've got the Italian Open, so I've got a month back in Europe. Then there could be far off traveling, Asia and finishing off the European Tour after that. So still a lot of golf for me to play this year. No rest for the wicked.

Q. You were kind of talking about last year's payout as an extraordinary amount, life-changing type number. This week is even more, and I'm sure -- next year or the year after that will probably be even more and things like that. When it comes to guys and their career spans with the level of payout that's are now on the table for the best of the best, do you think there's any -- is it worth having the conversation of could this end up maybe shortening some guys' careers where you don't have to play as much in older ages or don't have to play as long? What would be your thoughts on that?
JUSTIN ROSE: My thoughts on that are exactly it can be that way if you want it to be that way. It depends on your motivations for playing the game. My motivation to play the game is try to leave as much of a legacy as I can, try to play my way into the Hall of Fame, whatever that might be, win Major championships, live my dreams as a kid, which are winning Majors for the most part. So that's why I play, and these amazing moments that come along in your career, of course, it's the cherry on top.

But that's not the main motivation for me to play. It's the winning side, and it's the improvement side. It's basically, at the end of my career, being able to sit back and go, I gave it everything. I gave it 100 percent. I tried my best. Didn't leave anything on the table. I'm happy. Whatever the career looks like at that point, just knowing I gave it 100 percent, that's all that matters.

But if a guy is financially driven and wants to play to a number and doesn't like golf that much, and it's a stress and it's time away from his family that he doesn't enjoy, then absolutely it offers you that opportunity to get in and get out. But great players don't play that way, and the best in the world don't play that way. So I think golf will always be safe, no matter what the reward, because we want to be the best, and to be the best, we've got to play, I think, with a love for it.

Q. Justin, it was quite a big year for you as far as equipment change beginning of the year and you really made big results right away in San Diego. Just looking back the whole season -- well, whole year, I should say -- how satisfied are you about your performance? I know it's hard to repeat the year before. And also how much fun for you to be in that golf club designing and putting your thoughts into a club, stuff like that?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, honestly, I think the equipment side has been really easy this year. I've been really happy with it. I think there's been other external factors this year as well. Change of caddie, Fooch, my long-term caddie, he hasn't been able to sort of get back out here and get back to full fitness. So that's been a bit of upheaval this year, which has been tricky. Kids changing schools. There's some situations at home that have been very different as well. So there's a lot going on this year. It's been very much of a year where golf has -- it's been the focus. It always is the focus, but there's been other external factors. It hasn't been as simple as just golf this year.

I think, if I look back on the year, I haven't had the time this year to carve out the training camps and to get my team together and to really put in the required work to -- it's just been one of those years where, for some personal reasons, I haven't been able to do that. I think from February onwards, I struggled a little bit. I took all of February off in the hopes it would freshen me up and get me through the Major championship season. It didn't work out that way. So you live and learn from the way you build your schedule out.

I'm really excited about trying to build some time out in the next few months to really work on my game. That's what I feel I need to do. So for a year where I feel like I've played really poorly, I've feel like I've done a good job of competing. I fought really hard and battled hard this year. I've done it in different ways. Even though I haven't hit the ball well, I've chipped and putted well this year, and I've competed in some Majors late on Sundays. I'm proud of that, but I need to get better again. I just need the time and some attention on my game, and I'm looking forward to doing that.

Q. Justin, you mentioned the Hall of Fame. I'm pretty sure you're the only golfer on the planet with a Major, gold medal, and a FedExCup. I'm just curious what else you think you need to do to justify being in the Hall of Fame. It seems like pretty strong credentials right there.
JUSTIN ROSE: I'm knocking on the door, but I feel like you want to bash the door down and make it an easy decision. I don't want to be on the fringe of it. I want to kind of make an easy decision. I don't know what the word is. Is it two Majors and 20 PGA TOUR events? I don't know if there's a criteria there, per se. I've definitely had some cool moments in my career that definitely stand out. Hopefully, if it ever happened, they'd look favorably on that stuff.

But I want to kick on. I want to prove more to myself. I want to be a multiple Major champion. You win one or two more, and you see guys like Jordan and Brooks and Rory and Padraig Harrington, they've been able to win a few in a short period of time. If you catch fire and you catch a break here and there, you can rack up a couple of Majors pretty quick. So I'm looking for one of those spells and phases late in my career.

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