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June 28, 2011

Justin Rose


NELSON SILVERIO: We welcome defending champion of the AT&T National Justin Rose to the interview room here at Aronimink Golf Club. Give us some thoughts coming back as defending champion and just maybe some thoughts on your year so far.
JUSTIN ROSE: Sure, yeah. It's always a nice feeling coming back to a venue where you've played well, especially a great venue like this one. I think this one really gets a lot of the players very excited, and it's the kind of test of golf that I enjoy playing. It really suits or tests your all-around game. I love the challenge that it presented last year, and that's what I'm looking forward to this year. It's nice to come back and you see your picture around the place and it exudes some good feelings, but mostly I'm excited to play this golf course for four days.

Q. How do you feel your season is going so far?
JUSTIN ROSE: I feel like I'm coming in here with really good form; just like last year, three missed cuts. It's pretty much the polar opposite to last year really. I started off the season playing really, really well. The last few weeks I've run into a bit of trouble, haven't scored well. I haven't been playing that badly. But I guess in some ways I come in with sort of no expectation, which can be a good thing.
I feel like I'm working on a few areas of my game right now. The game is not bad, but the results could sort of pop out at any point I feel. So I'm already coming in with a lot of form under my belt to have high expectations, but as I said before, that can help you just free it up a bit, you go out there Thursday, see what happens, and that's a state of mind that can produce your best golf.

Q. Last year you had a great streak going, you were hampered by a shoulder injury. At what point did you first notice you had that shoulder injury, and how is it now?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, actually funnily enough I got a feeling I might have picked it up traveling back from here back to the UK for the JP McManus Pro-Am. I remember picking my little boy up out of a stroller and I have a feeling I tweaked it there, felt it at the Open Championship and kind of really kind of battled my way through the FedExCup with the shoulder.
Yeah, kind of got progressively worse week by week by week, and by the end of the TOUR Championship I was very much struggling on the weekend. I think we were talking yesterday, by the point of the Ryder Cup it maybe turned out to be a good thing I wasn't picked because I'm not sure I would have got through the week there.
It's doing really, really well. I had some rehab -- managed to treat it with rehab. I had some opinions that I might need surgery but I didn't fancy going down that route, but I managed to fix it up with a bit of rehab, which was good.

Q. This is kind of a broad question, but I'm just wondering if you're getting -- if you get a sense that Jack's record for 18 majors might be more unattainable now than everyone thought, it's almost like DiMaggio's hitting streak or something that looks almost further away now than ever?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, for sure. That's what makes it an incredible achievement in the first place. Not only do you have to be a great golfer but you have to have a run of fitness, you need to have obviously all areas of your life going for you for pretty much 20-plus years to achieve something like that.
I think there's probably been players throughout history who have played as good as Jack, maybe better than Jack through a period of time, but to do it over a course of 20, 25, 30 years or whatever, then that certainly is what makes the records very, very hard to beat. There's no doubt, if you look at Tiger now, he has to have a career of Seve Ballesteros to go past Jack, so when you put it in that kind of perspective, it's still a pretty tall order.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN ROSE: It's like Rory, people even began to whisper that week or a couple weeks ago. It's very hard to get ahead of yourself at that point. What a great start for a 22 year old to notch a major under his belt that early. Certainly you're on track, but goodness, like we've seen, it takes relentless performance year in and year out, and there's a lot of factors that go into that, not just being a good golfer.

Q. Can you expand on why you like this golf course so much?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think you have to drive the ball well. I like the way they've set it up. There is a bit of rough out there on the golf course. I think all year we've played a lot of golf courses this year where the rough has been down, whereas I think this really brings ball-striking into the equation as much as anywhere we've played all year. You've got to hit the fairways; very difficult to play from the rough. And then I think you've got to be very patient and got to have great strategy. It's a golf course where it's not going to necessarily be 20-under par. I like that.
I like the fact that if you do miss the green it's not your standard up-and-downs. You've got to really play a great short game shot to get the ball up-and-down. There's also other areas that you cannot get the ball up-and-down and need to know that beforehand and miss in the appropriate spot. So a lot of thinking out there, and if you do hit a poor shot it takes a great recovery shot to make par, so I think it tests all aspects of your game.

Q. Is this your last tournament before the Open?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, playing Scottish Open next week.

Q. Can you give us a scouting report on Royal St. Georges?
JUSTIN ROSE: I can't really. I've heard that there's not much rough this year, which may be a good thing for that golf course because it's a very difficult golf course to hit fairways. A lot of the fairways are cambered from the middle, the ball kicks away.
So I remember last -- '03 I played it, seemed to have a tough time. I didn't play particularly well. But I played a British Amateur there back in the day. I just remember it being a very quirky golf course, almost like playing on the surface of the moon. It's very much humps and bumps, and you're very much at the mercy of the course in the terms of the kicks you can get. That's the great thing about links, golf, though; you need to embrace that.

Q. Have you played golf on the moon?
JUSTIN ROSE: I have, yeah. It was good. One other chap did, as well, at one time.

Q. Do you get any sense at all that golf fans miss Tiger, and if so, why?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think they do miss him for sure. I think they like seeing records be challenged and broken, and I think the way he plays the game, he plays it with a lot of intensity. I think people like to see him win. He seems to win in dramatic style more often than not. So that's I think what people like to see. He puts on a good show. Everything that goes around him at a golf tournament is a little more high atmosphere, high energy.

Q. Do you think it's possible that he's missed less because of some of the recent winners we've had, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, who are not only young but kind of upward moving, that can fill the gap?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, he'd quite possibly be missed less at this moment than when things happened a while back, but I think it's because we're getting used to him not being around as much. It's been a couple years almost now, so there's been a lot of other great stories in the meantime, a lot of opportunities for other guys to get their name in lights and a lot of other reasons for fans to identify with other players, too. So it's a culmination of both. I think just as time has gone by, we've been forced to have to look for new favorites, as well.
In the grand scheme of things, I think he's obviously still got time on his side in terms of what we were talking about earlier, the records and coming back and making a comeback. I have no doubt that he will do that, and obviously that's going to be great for the TOUR, as well, when that happens.
Obviously the rest of us are still vying for the position of being able to take the top spot and do all that kind of stuff. It's now very attainable for a lot of players, which is very exciting.

Q. As a player, as a competitor, we've had a number of what some might describe as shock winners of majors over the years. What would be your definition of what's surprising about a certain guy winning, whether it was a Shaun Micheel, Ben back in the day or whatever?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think the fact that majors are renowned as huge pressure cookers, and to win them tests all aspects of your game, and maybe some names aren't as proven under the crush or down the stretch as a guy that you may expect to be winning majors, and for a guy to hold up under that amount of pressure may be the surprising thing, or to keep it together for four days.
I think if you look up and down the range on any given day all of us can mix it with one another, but it's under the greatest amount of pressure to be able to keep it all together, and I think that tends to be what surprises people about major champions is the fact that they can hold it together.

Q. One more thing along the lines of missing Tiger, is it too much to put that on Rory, to fill this void that's sort of been out there for a while?
JUSTIN ROSE: I don't feel sorry for Rory having to bear that burden of expectation now. You get what -- he's earned it, he deserves it, he's a great player. The way he played at the U.S. Open captured a lot of people's imagination that he is good enough to do that, to cruise to victory.
It's almost -- he's only won three times, too, so it's also very difficult to get ahead of ourselves, but he's shown the ability that he could be in that league for sure. But that's going to be the challenge for him, isn't it, which is good. I think he plays golf with a great attitude. I think the way he handled Augusta was probably as impressive as his win to be honest, the way he bounced back from that. I think he's shown a lot of fantastic characteristics so far.

Q. I've got a non-Tiger question for you.
JUSTIN ROSE: All right, cool.

Q. The groove rule, now we've had some time to look at it. As a player, has it impacted -- you play some tournaments where the rough is down, the rough is up. Have you seen any impact of the new groove rule, and is the impact that you've seen, do you think it's worth it?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think it's been a pretty minimal impact. I haven't had a flier really yet this year. I mean, I may have had one or two, but it's not been a case of, well, let's mow the rough down, let's keep it short, let's bring the flier into play. I still don't think that's really happened.
My greens in reg statistics this year have gone up. That's probably down to a lot of other things, but I'm third in greens in regulation this year, which is a statistic I haven't particularly dominated in the past. I don't know if other guys are having a harder time than me, but I haven't really noticed a big difference. I couldn't even -- scoring doesn't seem to have changed, haven't studied it, but I think the only area you find it is with a sand wedge or a lob wedge in your hand where you are off the fairway and you have a very tight pin. Only on the extreme shots, and I think instead of being able to stop the ball three feet from the flag, you maybe can stop it five feet, six feet from the flag, and that one area does make a little bit of difference because putting statistics from three feet to five feet change a little bit from pretty much 100 percent to maybe 70 or 65 percent, so that's the only area that I've personally seen.

Q. We go to the Open with five straight major winners non-Americans. As a player does that matter to you at all, and what does it say about the state of the game at this point?
JUSTIN ROSE: You know, as a player I don't think it matters at all. We're all individuals. I think one week a year we get together and play as a team, but for the rest of the time you are very much out there for yourself. So I think it's a great story line or not-so-great story line depending on where you're from, whichever way you look at it.
But I think as an individual I don't see like any pressure or any expectation to jump on the bandwagon and be a part of it. I think we're all trying to do for ourselves.

Q. With Tiger obviously out right now and struggling the last couple years, is there just a different feeling, whether it's on the range or in the locker room, in terms of your perspective or from other players in terms of chances to win? In other words, is it different from say five years ago when it comes to that?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, I think if you take Tiger in his prime, he'd have five or six or seven tournaments a year that would obviously give guys less chances to win. That's obviously not happening at the moment, so you're maybe seeing one or two more first-time winners possibly, so that does give rise to a little bit more of an incentive. But if you look at the world No. 1, that's the one area where guys are suddenly thinking, the game is on, I can do this. When Tiger was averaging 20 points, that seemed impossible. It seemed like that's unattainable to be honest. Now the numbers come down to whatever it was, it was 7, we might have crept up to 9-point average. There's sort of a realistic target for a lot of guys.
That's the one areas that's maybe cause a few guys' interest obviously because it's been changing hands a little bit in the last few months. I think that's been the exciting part, too.
NELSON SILVERIO: Justin Rose, thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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