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October 9, 2019

Justin Rose

Brescia, Italy

STEVE TODD: Pleased to be joined by Justin Rose. Been many years since we were last here at this golf course. Not sure what the memories are like of that occasion, but give us your thoughts on being back here this week.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. It's amazing how quickly time flies. Obviously my memory's are Ian Poulter and him winning. We used to room together on Tour a lot back in the day, and obviously it was very much the beginning of his career, and I was still probably in the struggling stages of mine. But very fond memories, I suppose.

Clearly I don't remember exactly how I played or what I did or too much about the golf course, but overall, just the early stages of my career and learning the ropes, really. It's now nice to come back here, obviously with everything that's happened in my career.

I feel like it's been a great journey, but it's nice to be I guess playing back in Italy with how exciting golf is looking here for the future obviously.

Being a Rolex Series Event is huge growth for tournament and we all know The Ryder Cup is around the corner here in Italy. Been a lot of growth in my career and a lot of growth in golf in Italy. It's been a fun 17 years.

STEVE TODD: I don't know if you've had a chance to catch up, but apparently you lent him a putter 17 years ago which helped him win.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I had no recollection of that until someone reminded me and I thought, oh, yeah, I think I can remember the putter, actually. It was like a long-neck bronze-looking putter. That's the kind of thing that we would still do, really.

Poults and I are great friends, and care about one another and wish the best for one another, but I think back when you're a little bit younger, that's the sort of stuff that you're a bit more reckless sometimes; oh, I'm not putting well, give me your putter. Let me have a go.

Now, more of a seasoned pro, you make decisions more carefully. That's the great thing about being young on Tour, sometimes I guess the youth is -- I don't know what to say -- there's a saying I'm looking for but I can't find it. But when you're young like that and care free, it's very cool to have memories like that.

STEVE TODD: Another Rolex Series Event this week. Coming into the end of the season, give us your thoughts from here on in.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, there's a big run towards Dubai and The Race to Dubai, and each Rolex Series Event offers you the opportunity to gain a lot of ground and obviously that's the position I find myself in.

Played okay so far this year. Haven't played in a lot of European Tour events, so I've kind of back-ended my schedule, and it's important for me to have a strong finish. I try to focus, get the FedExCup out of the way, but now I can really focus on Race to Dubai.

The next month for me is really, really important and I feel like I'm in a position where I have to win probably two or three events between now and Dubai to challenge the leaders, but it's possible. I had that sort of run at the end of 2017 and nearly pulled it off. I had a great chance to win in Dubai. That's probably one of my regrets the last couple years is the last six, seven holes there, but maybe I can put that run together this year.

Q. You've been a great supporter of the Olympic Games in a period where maybe the players were not really convinced. So two years later, three years later, what was your feeling?
JUSTIN ROSE: My feeling is that it's been the biggest gift of my career. I was definitely a supporter of it. For me, the opportunity to represent my country is always something that I regard very highly, and that's for me what the Olympics represented was to go to Rio to be a part of Team GB, to stay in the Olympic Village, to meet all the other great athletes, and just to say that I'm an Olympian. Didn't really relate to golf at the time but I thought, this is an amazing opportunity.

I think since winning it, I realise how important it is and how important it was. Literally every week I play golf, I hear something about the Gold Medal from crowd or from media or from somebody. I don't hear about the U.S. Open now. I hear only about Gold Medal.

So it's been very important to the golfing public, and I think because of that, other players have realized that it is an important event, and I think this year, or next year in Tokyo, golf is going to be very well represented.

I think like tennis, it took a Games or two for all the top players to really understand how important it was, but I think it's going to be something that in a career, everyone is going to want to experience. You know, in golf, it only happens once every four years. Sometimes a major championship, you have another one, especially now, you have another one in a couple of weeks, and then in another couple of weeks, and then in another couple of weeks. In the Olympics, you have to wait four years.

I think it's going to be very important and I feel very lucky that I was able to achieve what I did in Rio. Yeah, it lives with me, still, every week that I play because I hear so much about it.

Q. You're going to be defending in Turkey, and what about Torrey Pines, will you defend your title next year and get another surfboard?
JUSTIN ROSE: Absolutely, yeah, playing in Turkey again. Trying to do the hat trick is something that really piques my interest. Obviously I need it for The Race to Dubai. There's only three other players in the history of The European Tour that have won the same tournament three times, and it's a great list. It might be Woosie, Seve and Faldo, I think. I could be wrong but it's a small list of great players. It's a small and very illustrious group. So for me, it's a huge goal to try and add my name to that.

The win in San Diego this year has probably been the highlight of the year. I played really, really well down there. Torrey Pines South Course is one of my favourites in the world. Living in the Bahamas as I do right now, surfboards are a good thing to have in the garage. It would be nice to have a pair.

Q. Will you play Kapalua?
JUSTIN ROSE: You know, Kapalua is a tough one for me. I can never really get my head around, just having spent family time and Christmas, to kind of gear up. I only want to play in a tournament when I'm prepared. I find it very hard to prepare for that tournament and be ready to play.

If I was a PGA TOUR player only and I had plenty of time to rest and not much travel, but I think coming off the back of a lot of international travel, I think the month around Christmas for me is so important for me to recharge. Find it hard to head off that early, which is a shame, because it's a great venue and a great tournament.

Q. Is there anything different or special about playing in Italy, and Rome, specifically?
JUSTIN ROSE: Obviously, yeah, Rome is one of the most iconic cities in the world. Clearly it's special to be here. I think the weather is first and foremost perfect for golf.

There's always style and just something different about being in Italy. I don't drink a ton of coffee, but when I'm here, I have to. Everything just tastes a little better here. I enjoy the off-course as much as the on-course, and I'm going to stay for a couple of days in Rome after the tournament. Very rare, very rarely would I make that time at a tournament to stay after. In fact, never, really. So just speaks of Rome and speaks of Italy that you try to make that time to really enjoy the country.

For me, I never compromise my performance in terms of going into Rome in the evening and have dinners. I try to keep it very tight and very focused, but I wanted to make sure that I at least experience the city before I leave.

Q. Can you speak about the strength of Italian golf right now?
JUSTIN ROSE: Absolutely. Francesco is a good friend, and I've been so impressed with his work ethic the last few years and how he's rededicated himself and the level he's got to, and obviously winning The Open Championship; for Italy to have a champion like that that they can celebrate and look up to is unbelievable.

There's more and more guys coming through. Manassero has been around for a few years, Renato Paratore, great talent; and Guido Migliozzi, who has won a couple of times. It's really great to see that the younger guys are coming through, as well.

Q. Shane asks, what's your favourite course in the world?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it's a great question. It's one I always have a hard time asking a question to.

So I try to pick a venue where I can play 36 holes in a day. For me, there's a couple around London which I love, Sunningdale, Old and new. It would be Walton Heath where we hosted the British Masters this year. You can play 36 wonderful holes of golf there.

Then Stateside, I probably pick National Golf Links of America and Sebonack. They are two different venues but they border one another.

Then slightly bit more of a stretch, you have Merion and Pine Valley, which are a 40-minute drive from one another, but if you're really keen, you can do that in a day.

Q. What is it about the Rolex Series that brings out the best in you?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, they are a highlight on my calendar in terms of when I'm preparing my schedule. I look at all the important tournaments around the world and try to make sure I'm ready and prepared for them. Rolex Series are in that category.

And yeah, always just enjoy playing in Europe, really, as well. I guess the good feeling and the preparation is a good combination.

Q. Thanks for supporting the Telegraph Junior Championships. What are you working on this week?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it's a pleasure to be sort of supporting that initiative -- not initiative. It's been going for many years. I was a byproduct of playing the Daily Telegraph Junior Championships back in, I think in '96 it was my year. I have such fond memories that I wanted to keep it going for the kids. Instead of maybe a corporate sponsor behind it, I was hoping, you know, maybe for them to have a professional golfer behind it would give them more encouragement to enter and maybe one day follow in my footsteps and all the footsteps of the guys that have made it through that and gone on to play on Tour.

But what am I working on right now? Not a lot of technical stuff to be honest with you. I'm just trying to get back into a rhythm of trying to compete. I want to get back on the leaderboard and get back into the winner's circle and make that more of a habit between now and the end of the year. So I'm looking at more how I'm competing and the mental side and the intention behind winning, I guess, at the moment.

Game-wise, you're always working on tweaks in your swing, but I would say there's no major surgery going on at the moment.

Q. Any advice for a 12-year-old son who wants to follow in your footsteps?
JUSTIN ROSE: 12 years old, great age to really be getting into it. You're getting stronger and stronger every year. You're beginning to it had the ball properly, I would say.

The way golf is going, you've got to learn to hit it as hard as you can, but tons and tons of short game. Just be as creative as possible.

I think for me, the more fun I had with my practise as a kid, I guess ultimately the more little skills that you learn. I used to throw balls in the woods and just literally think -- we had a great short game area, like a short iron range and it had a green with three or four pin placements. And I would just take three or four balls deep into the woods and think, okay, how am I going to get myself out of these woods into the hole in as few amount of shots as possible, and it might have been hitting through gaps in the trees or trying to bend balls around tree trunks.

One, you need to have structured practise to a point, but as a kid, you have to keep it fun and creative and just learn as many trick shots as possible, I would say.

Q. It's a long way off, but will you see the construction site prior to The Ryder Cup and what do you expect for the team?
JUSTIN ROSE: In terms of this week? I don't think so this week. I think now is a time to get excited about the concept, what it might look like. Obviously Rome offers a major opportunity for The Ryder Cup for all the off-course activities. The Ryder Cup is a big week and as much happens off the golf course as happens on the golf course. Monday to Friday is a long time with a lot of events.

Rome is going to be incredibly exciting with what can be achieved off the golf course, and I have full trust in the team that they are going to get the on-course stuff done in a great way suitable for a Ryder Cup.

I'm not sure there's a ton to look at right now. I know they are working incredibly hard. I think maybe we're probably a year. I think probably next year Italian Open, we'll probably have something really tangible to check out.

And team-wise, man, who knows. The landscape is changing so quickly. There's youngsters popping up all over the place but for me as an elder statesman by the time 2022 comes around, I'm just trying to stay fit and sharp and competitive as much as I can.

A mix of a good team you is need the youth coming through, but you need a few guys who have the experience to try and pass down and to be the guys that can just -- young guys can lean on a little bit. My role is to try to be one of those guys by the time 2022 comes around.

Q. Last year at this time, you were just making the move with Honma. Are you happy with that? Any changes that you're going to come up with equipment-wise?
JUSTIN ROSE: I've been really, really happy the way it's panned out this year. I haven't swung the club as well this year, and there's a few things I would have done differently this year from a schedule point of view.

I just feel like circumstance and learning the new rhythm of the year, I just haven't carved out enough time for dedicated training camps with my team and I just feel like I've been trying to fix my game a little bit on the road, which I don't really like doing.

So from a momentum point of view, could I have done a lot of things different this year, but equipment-wise, I've been really, really happy. The irons feel amazing. They look incredible. The driver has been good. I'm learning more and more about it. I think every club has a tendency, and I feel like for me I'm learning how that club wants to behave, which for me is like a little three-, four-yard fade which is fantastic.

Once you know where to aim -- you know, when you're trying to hit a straight shot down the middle of the fairway, the fairway is small, because if you miss slightly left or right, you only have half the fairway to play with. But if you know the shape of the club, if you can aim left-third, you kind of have two-thirds of the fairway to play with, so I'm beginning to get the hang of that.

Yeah, I have the flexibility within at arrangement to play a special putter. I put in an Axis 1 putter this year, which is one of the reasons, as well, I made the change, to give myself that flexibility in certain areas of my golf bag. You can find a favourite club, so I'm not pinned into 14 clubs and ball with someone. That's a big part of what I felt I needed to do to get in the next level.

Q. Have you ever had a golfing nightmare or recurring dream about golf?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, but good question. When I'm not playing well, I often dream about golf in a negative connotation, negative way. And when I'm playing great, I never remember a dream about golf.

So there's obviously the anxiety that does come around when you're not playing well. It's funny, it sort of comes through occasionally in a dream, but nothing reoccurring. There's not like a stuck moment that you can't get past. But I have noticed in my life that when I'm not feeling confident, I'll remember more dreams on the negative side. I never remember the good ones, unfortunately.

STEVE TODD: Justin, have good dreams this week, and enjoy Rome, as well.

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