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April 8, 2004

Justin Rose


RONALD TOWNSEND: Good afternoon. We are privileged to have Justin Rose here, who shot a 67 today. Would you like to make some comments before we go hole by hole or do you just want to go directly to hole by hole?

JUSTIN ROSE: Well, I'm obviously delighted. It's a dream start. Well, the dream start was actually probably the first couple of holes, just to get off to a birdie, birdie start was you know, it gets you into the tournament from the word go. It makes your day much, much easier.

It all really stemmed from my first tee shot. I hit what I would consider a perfect tee shot, crushed it straight down the middle and from that moment on just really felt comfortable on the golf course.

Q. Did you see this coming?

JUSTIN ROSE: In a way, yeah. I mean, I have been hitting the ball really well and not necessarily getting good scores out of what I felt has been good play. So in a way, it has been coming, yeah. It's nice that it came today, really, in this tournament. So I'm really pleased with that.

Q. If you look at your stats, I guess you had 32 putts on 17 greens and a couple of 3 putts so it could have been even better, the way you were striking it?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, you can always say it could have been better. One of the 3 putts was on the 8th. I was on the front edge of the green in two. I really had no putt to get to that back right pin placement and knocked it to 10, 12 feet, which was actually a good putt, and I lipped out with the next one.

The only one I could really sort of complain about was the fact that I 3 putted from a pretty good birdie chance at 11. I had about 12 feet down the hill there and possibly was getting a little too confident and didn't give that green enough respect. It's really, really quick from the right side. That was the only thing that I was probably disappointed with today.

Q. How far was that coming back?

JUSTIN ROSE: Knocked it five feet by.

I was really pleased with the way I sort of stuck to my game plan, stuck to my guns and really just played patiently from then on. I didn't let that little mistake get to me. I hit it close into 12, didn't make the putt.

But then good up and down on 13. And obviously a wonderful finish. So there's nothing I can really complain about at the end of the day.

Q. How many weeks is it you've now been in America and what has David been saying about your game?

JUSTIN ROSE: I've been here a while, eight weeks, I think.

We've been working hard. We've had a lot of time together, which is good. One reason why I have spent so much time here, I wasn't particularly swinging the club well at the beginning part of the year. I felt it was foreign to come over here for not just a week or two weeks but at a period where I could really put some hard work into my game, and that is generally done with David. He's really happy with the way I'm swinging it. It was just a matter of letting it flow, really.

He's been telling me for the last three, four, five weeks, the game is right there, so you've just got to try to somehow make it happen, which is often the hard part.

Q. Lead just said that Kelly has been giving you putting instructions, including standing within one leg to work on your balance?

JUSTIN ROSE: Well, Kelly is really into pilates and all this sort of stuff. Whenever I go around to David, Kelly has a pair of roller blades on and all that sort of stuff. The other day I saw her, she had her roller blades on trying to putt, which is obviously working on balance and core and all this stuff.

I think she saw me moving a little bit on my putter, so she tried to give me a couple of tips. Standing within one leg, you have to really set your stomachs muscles to help keep you solid. It's something I like, because obviously, it's not a technical thing. It's not is my putter inside or outside the line or too high or too low. It's an internal feeling and lets you go ahead and hit putts.

Q. Do you have a favorite Masters image from watching it on TV when you were a kid?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I'm probably of an age where probably Faldo is my earliest memories, of him looking dumbstruck when he holed that putt on the 11th in the playoff to win. And obviously, that amazing round with Greg Norman, that was something I was glued to. I think when anybody was winning majors, 1991, I was 10, 11 and that's when you're at a pretty impressionable age.

Q. What were the conditions like out there? Was it an advantage to go off early?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I mean, I was actually really excited when I saw my draw, playing early. It's kind of nice to get out there and sometimes get into the tournament as quick as possible. Ask also playing with Rocco Mediate and Chris DiMarco, guys I've played with before and who are fantastic to play with. When I saw my draw, I was really happy.

In terms of weather, I'm not sure if it was an advantage, disadvantage, or how it's going to pan out. I don't know what the weather is going to do the rest of the day, but certainly the rain that did fall really wasn't too much of a problem.

Q. Did you think Chris's ball was in the hole when he hit it on No. 6? You had front row seats for that.

JUSTIN ROSE: Actually, I hit a pure, perfect golf shot in there because that's such a tiny little target you have up there on the 6th. I hit a great shot into about four, five feet. I was pretty proud of myself until (Laughter.) Chris got up there.

He just hit it straight at the flag. To make a hole in one, often guys make hole in ones where it hits a knob and comes in, a bit of luck, but there was nothing lucky about that. That was a pure shot. That's another bonus for the day. How often do you get to see hole in ones?

Q. When you were going through your struggles right after you turned pro, do you ever look back on that time as maybe a blessing, something that helped you?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I've said that those experiences of me trying to make cuts, it felt I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. I think the fact that I've won four times, each of those occasions that I've won, I've really felt like what I've been through has kind of made that much easier and made me be able to sort of get through the finish line in a couple of tournaments.

That's the way I like to look at it, put a positive spin on a pretty dodgy spell of form.

Q. How different have you found the course from your previous experience here?

JUSTIN ROSE: In a way, it's much more pleasant. It's nice, it's a joy to be out there. It's kind of how you imagine Augusta to be. Last year was such a shame, trudging through mud and all that sort of stuff.

Yeah, the course is in perfect shape. The fairways are like carpets. This is how I picture Augusta to be.

So to have sort of three sunny practice days, it really gives that you sense of this is what Augusta is all about.

Q. Is that, in its own term, inspirational for you?

JUSTIN ROSE: Sure, it is a magical place. The course is playing the ball is running or was running out on the fairways, but it still wasn't playing short. To me it was playing perfectly. You could it enabled a lot of guys to sort of shoot good scores, but it means you have to play really, really good golf.

Q. You've had a lot of good rounds by now, but where do you set this one?

JUSTIN ROSE: Well, right up there, obviously. Any time you're in a major situation or on a major stage and you shoot a round that could be the round of the day, potentially, it has to be one of your one of the best rounds you've ever played, really.

Q. Justin, do you think the rain that did fall early did was there a shot out there where you think it helped you at all that the ball stopped more on the green because of it or a chip was better?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it rained quite heavily going up the 5th hole. I think it helped us on the 6th, because that pin was up on that mound up on the top there, which obviously on higher ground generally is firmer.

Both Chris DiMarco and myself, we pitched the ball up on top of the ridge, albeit only just, and the ball stopped just by the flag. So the rain came just in time for that shot.

Q. Are you more likely, do you think, to be inspired or intimidated by being at the front or close to the front of the Masters field?

JUSTIN ROSE: I'm going to have to say inspired. (Laughter.) That's the mindset you've got to get into.

But hopefully unfazed will probably be the perfect mindset to be in rather than inspired or intimidated. I think unfazed would be my ideal mindset for tomorrow.

Q. How difficult was the bunker shot on 13?

JUSTIN ROSE: It was so so. It was kind of you pitch it on the green, you could almost chunk it out and it would release down to the hole and you could play a little more aggressively like I did and you knew it was going to spin a little. There was a couple of ways of getting it close. All you had to really do was pitch it on the green somewhere and it was going to roll down to at least within eight feet. It was tough, but tough sort of mentally more than anything because of obviously the water right behind the hole.

Q. What were the distances on the last two?

JUSTIN ROSE: I hit driver, 8 iron from I hit driver, 8 iron into, must have been four feet on 17.

Then driver, 6 iron to the last about eight feet.

Q. There was so much discussion when you turned pro about whether it was a good idea or if you were doing it too young and so forth. Do you feel like the way your career has developed you've answered those questions about whether it was the right thing to do?

JUSTIN ROSE: I hope so. I'm 23 and I've been through a lot of great experiences and won four times, got my U.S. TOUR card, EUROPEAN TOUR card. I feel very comfortable in the position I am. I have been in the Top 50 in the world, just fallen out of it, but I have been Top 50 in the world for pretty much the last couple of years. I feel like obviously I'm at the right end of the game.

So, yeah, there were times when, hey, you're thinking, well, this is this is going to be a long uphill struggle. But the last couple of seasons, I've recently enjoyed the situation I've been in. Hopefully it's time to move onward and upward even more.

Q. Could you expand on Faldo and just his influence on you?

JUSTIN ROSE: I wouldn't say it had a major influence in terms of how I've modeled my game or anything like that. Just his achievements, and obviously he's been the most successful British player, so obviously you do look up to him in terms of a benchmark in a lot of ways.

I think what you've got to admire most about Nick is his sort of strategy and try to learn from him in those sorts of ways. Actually, I played a practice round with him here last year and definitely picked up a couple of things that I might not have otherwise. There are some things that are obvious, but there are ones that only if told to you are obvious.

Q. The number of disappointing first rounds you've had, were you conscious of that going into this week, and why do you think you put an end to it today?

JUSTIN ROSE: I probably put an end to it today because I wasn't conscious of it. (Laughter.) That's probably the frustratingly simple answer, to be honest.

Today, and my goal for the week, is try to stay much more in the present and not kind of try too hard or put too much pressure on myself. My goal was to try and just cruise through this week and really enjoy it and let it happen. Obviously, it's going to really test me now, the situation, obviously, I'm in. So if I can follow through with my goal, it should be a good week.

Q. Second shot at 14 today, did that give you particular pleasure? It seemed to be a shot you had to manufacture.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I was in a bad I was obviously in bad position there behind the trees. It's a shot I feel actually quite comfortable with, hitting that sort of big, running sort of snap hook. I've hit it a lot unintentionally before, as well. (Laughter.)

Yeah, it was a bonus in terms of actually getting it to run up the hill and to finish exactly pin high. There was some guesswork involved, but I hit the ball, I hit the shot actually exactly how I wanted to, but it did turn out really well for me, as well.

Q. What did you hit?

JUSTIN ROSE: 7 iron, just closed it up and let the right hand take over.

Q. People talk about experience being so important here. How much do you think you're still learning this place, and I guess, do you feel like you have enough knowledge to be where you want to be?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, experience is obviously vitally important. I look to my caddie in terms of that, as well. He's been around here, must be, I'm guessing, about 10 to 15 times. He carried for Woosie when Woosie won around here. He knows what the course is all about.

I try and use a lot of his knowledge in terms of making the right choices in terms of shots into the greens and stuff.

Q. His name?

JUSTIN ROSE: Phil Molby, better known as Wobbly.

Q. The position you're now in for tomorrow and the rest of the tournament, how much will you take strength and confidence in the way you held up as an amateur in '98?

JUSTIN ROSE: I mean, I finished Top 5 in a major before. Sort of I've been not in this situation, but I've been kind of up at the top in majors and I played second to last group on Sunday at the Open Championship at Muirfield.

It is new, for me, obviously, at Augusta, but it's not completely new. I will have some experiences to draw from.

Obviously, the Open as an amateur is the prime example. The thing did I so well there was I was blissfully unaware of the level I was actually playing at. I think if you can sort of kid yourself into being in that mindset again, just letting your natural abilities take over and not tend to worry too much about this is the Masters or things like that, then you have a good chance.

Q. Can you do that?

JUSTIN ROSE: Well, we'll see. That's what I'm going to try and do. I'm still learning, still 23, so we'll have to wait and see.

Q. Was falling out of the Top 50 a bit of a wake up call?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it's disappointing, because I feel like I'm playing every bit as well, if not better than I've ever played but just not really getting anything out of it. If you're not getting anything out of it, then you fall pretty fast out of the Top 50.

Again, I'm one week away from being in the Top 30, Top 20. So it can happen pretty fast. I'm not too worried.

Q. With it hard and fast during the practice rounds, could you have foreseen a 67 under those conditions?

JUSTIN ROSE: Well, I thought anything around par was a decent score. So if you had said to me I'd shoot 67, I would have been like, wow, that would be a hell of a score.

Today, whenever you play well, it always seems achievable, and I think, well, I can see that now. Only when you play well. When you're not playing well, you think, wow, that's a great score.

Things always seem easier when you're playing well. Yeah, anything under par around this golf course is still a very good score.

Q. You look at what happened at THE PLAYERS with Adam winning, and you're off to a good start. Are there indications that this next wave of players is at the point where they are ready to win these tournaments?

JUSTIN ROSE: In a way, yeah, I would say so, I think the reason being the fact that we're very well coached and trained at an early age. You know, that can count for a lot, I think.

But also, saying that, in terms of winning majors, it does come a lot, it comes down a lot to the mental side of things, and that's probably potentially why youngsters haven't come through in the past.

But I think you look at Ernie Els, I think he was like 24 when he won the U.S. Open. So if you want to be one of the best players in the world, now is the time to start coming through, really, and Adam is beginning to do that and it's really good to see.

Q. Five majors in a row won by people who had never won a major tournament before; do you have a theory? Is that a sign of more parity?

JUSTIN ROSE: It would be nice if that trend kept going.

I just think it means that the strength and depth is there sort of throughout the world. Any guy on his week is a tough man to beat. As to why, I'm not really sure exactly why that's happened, but it just does prove that professional golf is getting tougher and stronger.

Q. Clubs for 1 and 2?

JUSTIN ROSE: Driver and wedge into the 1st to 20, 25 feet.

Driver, 3 wood on the second to 40 feet.

1, I had 143 with a wedge. Came up a little short of the hole, but you can't afford to be long there.

RHONDA GLENN: Thank you very much and good luck the rest of the week.

End of FastScripts.

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