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May 29, 2008

Justin Rose


LAURA NEAL: Justin, thank you for taking the time to be here with us in the media room. Nice start to this event. A 68. Maybe talk about the round today and how it's looking going into tomorrow.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, sure. Really happy with that start. It was probably one of the most enjoyable rounds of golf I've had this year, just weather-wise and the course was in great condition. It was nice to go out there and feel like you could make a score. It feels like the last few weeks that every course has felt very, very tough. Probably since I wasn't playing great. But it was nice to get out there in the morning where everything was nice and benign.
LAURA NEAL: Take some questions.

Q. You had a good final round last Sunday, didn't you?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, I wasn't there on Sunday.

Q. Did this round come out of the blue? You've had a few weekends off in a row.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I have. In that respect it's come out of the blue. But obviously I've been working hard and I've been -- I feel like I've been getting somewhere. So, no, it hasn't come out of the blue. But it was nice to feel like I got a little bit of reward for today from some hard work I put in over the last couple of weeks.
But, yeah, kind of nice to get off to a good start again. Last few weeks I've been shooting 4- or 5-over the first round and really put myself out of it so it was good.

Q. What clicked today?
JUSTIN ROSE: A little bit of everything. Still a lot of scrappy shots and stuff that I need to work on. But I just managed to get a score out of it today. I did hit some good shots. Actually missed a few three or four footers for birdie. One of those rounds that could have been a whole lot better.
But I'll take it. I made some good up-and-downs in the middle of my round when I was at even par. So I could have got myself going in the wrong direction, but I made some really good saves, kept the momentum going. And then I holed a sand wedge on the third hole to go to 2-under again, for eagle there. So that kind of just boosted me. And then I managed to birdie two of the par-5s coming in. So it was nice to get to 4-under.

Q. Did you make any equipment changes or anything too or just working on refining things?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, mostly -- well actually I have changed my driver. Gone to the Super Quad. So moving back with technology again. I was using the old driver for quite awhile. So I feel like -- I'm just looking at some of my distances here. I'm managing to get some drivers out there over 300 yards again, which is nice. It's mainly the golf swing, just trying to quiet everything down. I get a little bit quick.
But everything was in good shape. Working hard on my putting. Which was nearly good today. I missed a few short ones, but I hit a lot of good putts, you know what I mean. So I'm sort of encouraged.

Q. Did you play well here last year, the year before? Were you among the leaders early?
JUSTIN ROSE: I finished fourth here in 2004 and 13th in 2006. I didn't play last year. I like the golf course for sure. It gives you the opportunity to drive the ball well. So many courses we play now, the fairways are so narrow, obviously it means it suits the guys who do drive it straight. But this course gives you the option to go out there and hit the driver. And it's a second shot golf course, which I really enjoy.

Q. You talked about benign conditions out there. Do you think getting out early in the morning and playing in the morning was a benefit? Do you think that might be an advantage for folks getting out early today?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well I believe the wind's going to stay pretty calm all day. And if it picks up tomorrow afternoon then I would say it's not an advantage. But yeah, any time you get out there in the morning the greens are generally softer. But if you look at the draw, the guys are going to have the same tomorrow morning. And it would be nice, you know, obviously it's relatively similar tomorrow afternoon, if it's the same.
But golf never pans out like that. But yeah, for sure this morning was ideal for scoring. But it just shows what a tough course it is. Really the greens, as perfect as they are and weather like this and still 4-under is a really good score.

Q. I recall you saying you haven't been back to Birkdale at all? In 10 years?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, but I went back, I was home last couple weeks and I went back to Birkdale for three days.

Q. And?
JUSTIN ROSE: Really good.

Q. Scouting report?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah. No, actually, Adam Scott and I played together one day and it was really nice. Really fair. Really enjoyed the golf course actually. I didn't remember a lot of it, to be honest, after 10 years and they made about 17 changes to the golf course. But it's very, very subtle changes there. And yeah, obviously the 17th green is the one big change and the one area of contention if you like. But apart from that it's really really looking good.

Q. Anything come flooding back as you were looking at the course at all?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, a few little memories. Funny things that happened during the week and stuff like that. That's the reason I did it more than actually learning the golf course, it was just time for me to get what happened ten years ago out of my system, so when I get there in July I can get down to business.

Q. Get out of yours system? You finished fourth. It seems like that would be something you would hold on to for dear life. That's pretty good.
JUSTIN ROSE: It was a whole different experience. It's important for me just to -- it was an unbelievable week. Obviously now I'll go there and finish fourth and do it in a whole different manner, whereas that week it was flying by the seat of your pants, you know, going with the flow. But it was nice to get back and reminisce a little bit.

Q. You mentioned how tough this course is with perfect conditions and you still only shoot 4-under. With the drainage work that they have done on the greens and in the fairways here the last few years, is this playing quicker than it has been? What's your experience here with the golf course today?
JUSTIN ROSE: Definitely. I think that they actually watered the greens over night I think. It could, it could play as quick as they want it to play. Actually they better be careful it doesn't get too quick because those greens out there are seriously fast. They're the purest greens I've -- I want to say the purest greens I've seen. They're really really good.

Q. You like, you prefer playing these types of conditions versus?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I like firm and fast. I think I've always done well on firm and fast conditions. I'm always in favor of that, to a certain extent as well. I think it's got to be playable.

Q. Last year was that injury related to not be here?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it was. Yeah.

Q. Before you get to Birkdale you got to go to Torrey Pines now.

Q. Was the driver change maybe in part to prepare for a course that's 7643 at sea level? Some of the things that you're going to encounter there?
JUSTIN ROSE: No. It was just time for change. It was -- the other driver served me well, but I just fancy a change. It was a good time for me to change. I wasn't playing particularly great, so I thought okay. I didn't have a lot of confidence with the driver at that point so I thought that this was a good time to get a new one in the bag. But, certainly a few extra 10 yards that week is going to be valuable.

Q. Do you like the U.S. Open test? The way it's set up?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, no, I do like it. I love the test the Majors throw out for four weeks a year or for one week a year for the U.S. Open style golf. I think a lot of tournaments try to copy that to a certain extent and it makes it tough. And I know golf's not meant to be easy, but at the same time I think it's really good to have those conditions at a Major Championship. And it does test you to the limits. But it's not that much fun to play -- if that was every single week, I don't think -- we would all be bald.

Q. Follow-up, five of the last seven have been won by non-Americans. Do you see any trend to that or any particular reason why that is that the non-Americans are winning?
JUSTIN ROSE: I just think international -- golf is an international game now and there's great, look at the Top-50 in the world and there's a huge spread of international players. So I can only just liken it to that. I think that obviously the international players are so familiar with playing in America now that to them the U.S. Open is not a big deal anymore. I guess playing in front of big crowds, you get used to it week in and week out on TOUR. So for international players I don't think it's that much of a change anymore.

Q. Did the week you missed with the back thing in any way contribute to this little run of off weekends that you've had? Did that set you back at all?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, it didn't, I don't think. I've been feeling really good the last few weeks health wise. No problems at all. So I wish I could blame it on that, but I can't.

Q. Jack on Tuesday described the Ryder Cup as an exhibition for bragging rights. Do you agree with that or do you have a slightly different take on it? He thinks it's a little over blown. Do you understand where he's coming from?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think it got that way. I think it got a bit over the top for a few years around '99, etcetera, etcetera. I think it's back to being what it should be, a fiercely contested event amongst the best from either side of the pond.
So I haven't played a Ryder Cup, can't really comment. But obviously Jack has, and obviously if you look at his career it's probably, it's rated by how many major championships he won. Not by how many Ryder Cups he played.
So from that perspective I can see what he's saying. But, yeah, there's a lot of guys right now who are just really trying to play great golf to get into the Ryder Cup. And it's not just the one week that is the contest it's actually like a six month run in where everyone is kind of quite intense about the whole thing. So it's a big deal. It's on the guy's minds for long, long time.

Q. So is that a yes or a no?
JUSTIN ROSE: Having not played one I don't feel like I'm qualified to comment really.

Q. But you understand his point then?
JUSTIN ROSE: I understand his point, but I guess my answer was I think it did get out of control for a little while, just watching it, but I think it's back to being the fiercely contested event that it should be.

Q. Firstly contested exhibition it should be?
I don't know. I need to be more politically correct on that, I guess.
LAURA NEAL: Justin, thanks for your time. See you back in here.
JUSTIN ROSE: All right.

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