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April 9, 2004

Justin Rose


RONALD TOWNSEND: Good afternoon. We are delighted to have Justin Rose back. He shot 1 under par today. He's 6 under par for the tournament. We invite your questions.

Q. A lot of guys were all over the board today. K.J. made a run at 7 and Chris made a bit of a run. You seemed to be the steadiest. Was that your game plan or just the way the course was playing for you?

JUSTIN ROSE: In a way, it was my game plan. I wanted to sort of not put myself under pressure at all today in terms of having to scramble for pars and get up and down. That's pretty much what I did for the most part.

Yeah, I was pretty happy with that today in terms of, again, I gave myself a lot of birdie chances and didn't have to put myself under too much pressure.

Q. Were you looking at the scoreboard during the course of the round and seeing guys making a run at and you then falling back? What were you thinking about when you saw that during the day?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I got a glimpse of somebody going to 7 under, but I didn't know who it was. I wasn't paying any attention to the boards today. I was just trying to go about my own business, really. Yeah, I wasn't aware of my round being particularly solid or other guys making a run or whatever.

So, basically, just sort of stuck to my task today and played pretty solidly.

Q. Charles Howell said that anybody that could miss 21 cuts in a row and lose their dad by age 22, doing something like this is probably pretty easy by comparison. How far would you go along with that? I don't know if that's an absolute truth, but I'd imagine it makes you a little tougher?

JUSTIN ROSE: In a lot of ways, you have experiences that make you realize that it's not the end of the world and other experiences that make you tougher and know how to deal with it.

Yeah, not to say that leading a major is easy, for sure, but I think I am lucky in a lot of ways in terms of at the age of 23, I feel like I can draw on a couple of things that have happened to me going into the weekend.

Q. Which was the greater, Justin, the pressure and hoopla surrounding being in the lead, or concentrating on hitting all of the shots you were required to hit today?

JUSTIN ROSE: I think they go hand in hand in a way. The fact that the way to deal with all of the hoopla, however you say it, the whooping and hollering, is to go about your business by just focusing on each shot, trying to sort of execute your game plan, basically.

To answer your question, I think it's harder to execute the shots because if you don't execute the shots, everything else that comes with leading gets to you.

Q When you got the first birdie, you looked as if you relaxed and enjoyed yourself. Do you feel comfortable being the guy that's up there?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I'm just enjoying sort of playing well. It is nice to be up on the leaderboard and be at the right end of things in a golf tournament, especially a golf tournament of this stature.

The first birdie today on the 5th was an important one because, yeah, it just felt like just made me feel like, again, I was going in the right direction. That was an important 3.

Q. You talked about the importance of having a day of playing with the lead and getting the experience there. How much do you think the so called hoopla will change as we get closer to the finish line?

JUSTIN ROSE: You can't kid yourself to the end. There's nothing at stake, really. As you get close to the finish line, you know it's up for grabs, and I'm sure it will get tougher and tougher.

You can still grow in confidence, dealing with what I did today, going into tomorrow, again, gives me confidence. Hopefully the week will build that way for me rather than go the other way.

Q. Do you think you can win from here?

JUSTIN ROSE: I believe I can, yeah.

Q. On your second appearance?

JUSTIN ROSE: Well, you know, it's not so much you know, you could look at it, like, oh, my caddie has been here 20 times, so he's as good as but, who knows. In terms of, I don't think the appearances, I know it makes a difference, but I don't think it's the be all and end all. What's the be all and end all is executing your shots and playing good enough golf to win. That's more important than having been here once, twice, three or four teams.

Q. Will you still be attacking or is there a feeling that you might be content with holding on?

JUSTIN ROSE: Well, you've got to play aggressively to the safe parts of the greens on this golf course. You can't there's no you can't play safely. You've still got to commit to every shot and you've got to play aggressively, but to the right parts of the greens.

Although you're shooting away from a flag, you've still got to go ahead and make a good golf shot to that point in the green.

So, to me, you still have to have an aggressive mindset even though you try to position your ball in what would appear to be safety spots.

Q. I'm sure you've been asked this before, but was there ever a time during those 21 tournaments where you thought you had made a mistake by turning pro? And also, what kept you going in terms of not if you didn't think that way, why didn't you think that way?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, there were times when I thought this is taking a long time to sort itself out.

And then possibly, I was thinking, maybe I don't regret turning pro. The only thing I possibly regret is putting so much emphasis on trying to get my Tour card at such an early age. At 17 it doesn't matter if you have a full Tour card. As long as you're accelerating, you're learning, you're practicing still, that's the important thing and I haven't lost sight of that. The thing that kept me going was a deep, down self belief that I was always good enough.

I look back to my amateur record, I try to take the Open out of the equation and look back to my amateur career and, listen, you still had a fantastic amateur career. You're good enough to make it into the pro game. That what's what kept me going.

Q. Can you recall a competitive round, Justin, where you over the course of hit so many iron shots, is that the way you were trying to hit them?

JUSTIN ROSE: Bay Hill I played really, really well, hit my irons really well there.

Yeah, over the last, actually, month or so, I have hit the ball well. Here, there is a greater premium on hitting it into the right spots. So I probably it's a difficult question to answer. I've hit a lot of shots close to the flags recently, but sometimes that's not the way to play this golf course.

Q. What were your most important par saves out there today on the back nine?

JUSTIN ROSE: 4th hole probably, as well. I actually hit a good shot but it went well, it went through the green. I had a really tricky shot off the downslope and only had about seven feet of green before it caught a ridge and went miles away, basically.

I then birdied the very next hole. So that was quite a sort of key point in the round. My momentum, momentum went from maybe going back to 4 , to 6 under par.

Q. How comforting is it that Tiger is six shots back, and with a bit of luck, not within range of you?

JUSTIN ROSE: Not in range? (Laughter.)

Q. We hope.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I mean, I think, the ten shot rule, that's why it's there, I think anybody making the cut is technically in range. Many tournaments have been won from ten back or whatever it might be.

I'm not really I've got to take care of my business, really. Obviously, Tiger is there and he's level par, and, you know, hey

Q. On the back nine, especially, you had several birdie putts that just scraped the hole. Are you at all frustrated with your putting?

JUSTIN ROSE: No, not really. Actually some of the putts I hit really well; they didn't go in. That's often all you can do.

It would have been nice to take it would have been nice to have taken advantage of a couple of good shots into the greens. But at the same time, you know, in the back of your mind, you always know that par is a good score. So when you don't make the putt, you still feel like, well, you're not putting a lot of pressure on yourself and it just keeps things moving along smoothly.

Q. You said earlier that some of the experiences you've had in golf are what you're drawing on for this week. Can you tell us what those are?

JUSTIN ROSE: Well, I harken back to the old 21 missed cut story. I felt like every time I was in "contention" to make the cut, I felt like there was an incredible amount of pressure on me. It seemed at the time that cameras would appear from the trees and suddenly, "Justin has a chance to make the cut for the first time." And there would be all of this scrutiny, if you like. That was just the way I saw it, which was obviously probably completely the wrong way to see it.

I'm trying to deal with that. Trying to make my first cut I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, and when I finally did, it was like winning a tournament. And winning four times, obviously believing that you can win under pressure, that will help me, as well.

Yeah, I just feel, those sorts of experiences will be what I will draw from.

Q. In a way, was making that first cut, and having all of those times when you were very close to making that cut, and snapping that streak, worse than dealing with something like this?

JUSTIN ROSE: Oh, yeah. This is fun, yeah.

You know, playing under pressure for the right reasons is fun. Playing under pressure for the wrong reasons, that's awful.

Yeah, this is definitely much, much better.

Q. Are you good at time management off the course? Do you know what you will do to occupy yourself tomorrow morning? You have a lot longer to wait, obviously?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I suppose I will have. I don't mind sleeping in. It's not a problem. (Laughter.)

Yeah, I'll just take things slowly, just sleep a little longer, have breakfast for a little longer, drive a little slower to the course (Laughter), stretch things out a little bit.

Sometimes that is an issue to deal with, because, you know, sometimes you can be tense and you just want to get out there and get cracking straight away. You do have to hold yourself back in a way, yeah.

Q. What was that first cut?

JUSTIN ROSE: It was at Slaley Hall. I think it was the Compaq Classic or Compaq European Open or whatever it was called. It wasn't all it cracked up to be, either (Laughter.). I had 80 on Saturday. (Laughter.)

Q. Do you use what happened at the British as an experience this weekend or is that like another lifetime ago?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, in a lot of ways it's another lifetime. I think the Open as an amateur, I said yesterday, I was sort of unaware of what I was achieving, whereas now I'm sort of fully aware of what I'm doing and what it takes and all those sorts of things.

You know, talent wise and all that sort of stuff, I know I can sort of keep it going. But it's sort of yeah, I mean, mentally, it's a different challenge, for sure.

Q. Did you face any pressure at all at Birkdale?

JUSTIN ROSE: Not after the third round. Not really after the third round. Obviously, I did see some of the papers and all that the next day after, so I was in the last group on Saturday. Once I got through Saturday, I thought, well, anything really that happens now is a bonus.

There was just pressure of not to really mess up, so that was it. And once I got through Saturday, that was all fine.

Q. It's been since '99 since a European won a major, and they are one, two, three, on the leaderboard here. Not asking you to be a spokesman for an entire continent, but is that at all exciting for you?

JUSTIN ROSE: It is. I mean, the odds are probably against a European not winning a major for that span of time, so it has to right itself eventually.

At the halfway stage, those odds are better than normal.

Q. Is there any part of your game that's appreciably improved? I refer to your bunker shot on 18, and that was an excellent shot; is your sand play stronger or what part of your game has improved?

JUSTIN ROSE: My sand play is pretty strong right now. I actually hit a really good bunker shot at 13 where I had to just land it on top of a ridge and let it catch the ridge down to the ridge with the water only five or six feet behind that. That was probably the best bunker shot I hit today.

Yeah, I feel pretty comfortable in the sand, which is nice. There's quite a lot out of it here, so that's good.

Everything has been ticking along and gradually improving over the last sort of month or two.

Q. Hard work; is that part of it?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, definitely. I have been working hard on my game. Yeah, it's nice to see the odd little reward coming here and there.

Q. Is Kelly still here or has she gone?

JUSTIN ROSE: I think she's gone. I didn't see her today.

Q. You didn't have a message about your putting?

JUSTIN ROSE: No, I haven't had anything. David Leadbetter said he's not going to get into that now, Kelly giving the lessons.

Q. You spoke outside about being very comfortable here. What about this place gives you that level of comfort?

JUSTIN ROSE: I don't know, to be honest. I guess the only thing, I'm just confident at the moment with my game, so, I mean, that's probably why I feel comfortable. It's probably just as simple as that, to be honest.

Q. You said you've had a policy of not looking at leaderboards today and yesterday; is that going to continue even if you're in the hunt on the weekend?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think so. I know if I see it, I see it. It doesn't necessarily bother me. I kind of knew from the vibe out there that I was leading. You kind of know.

But I think it's important not to concern yourself with who is making a run and who is going backwards and all of those things. At the end of the day, all that I can influence is my score.

RONALD TOWNSEND: Thank you, Justin, very much. Good luck over the weekend.

End of FastScripts.

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