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ABU DHABI HSBC GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP


January 28, 2012


Robert Rock


ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

SCOTT CROCKETT:  Robert, thanks for coming in and joining us, as always.  Very well played today, a strong finish but a strong round throughout.  You must be delighted with the round today and your position in the tournament overall.
ROBERT ROCK:  I am, actually.  I've been playing reasonably well the last few weeks, a couple of decent finishes in South Africa, and I've not really done well here in the past, but I had a good first couple of rounds and carried on playing well today.  So, yeah, pretty pleased overall.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Any particular part of your game good today?
ROBERT ROCK:  My putting has continued to be slightly better than normal.  I think that's reasonable, and the scores are slightly better around here.
I've hit the ball well for the last few seasons or so.  Had a bit of help with my short game, actually, and actually with my driver swing last week.  You need to drive the ball well here.  So that's pretty important.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Obviously the win last year gave you the confidence; are you still feeling that confidence into the start of this year?
ROBERT ROCK:  Slightly.  It's a little different way of starting a season off; whereas in the past, I'd play probably as many events as I needed to to get some money on the board and build a bit of confidence.
But it's not really necessary this year, so I'm just going to play the ones that I want to play in and not play quite as many as last year and try and put a bit more quality into it.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  And a nice quiet grouping for tomorrow, not much, no real media worries.
ROBERT ROCK:  That's an opportunity not to be missed.  I bogeyed the 16th hole and thought it might have cost me.  So two birdies to finish put me back in there, so I'm pretty pleased with that finish.

Q.  You're going to play tomorrow with Tiger, obviously.  Will that be an intimidation or extra boost to your confidence?
ROBERT ROCK:  No idea.  We'll see.  We'll see.  There's quite a lot of people out there obviously following Tiger in the group in front of us.  Hopefully we've got the same amount of people watching tomorrow, and we'll see how I cope with it.
I've not experienced that before, so I don't know either way.

Q.  You mentioned you bogeyed 16 and then two birdies.  When you bogeyed 16, are you thinking, oh, I really wanted to play with Tiger, so let's get this going.  So that kind of says something about your appetite for what's coming.
ROBERT ROCK:  Well, I just want to experience it.  How many chances I'll get to do that, it's not clear, so there was one there slipping away, so I had to do something about that.
Who else is in the final group, do we know?  Are we threes again tomorrow?
SCOTT CROCKETT:  We are threes tomorrow.

Q.  But some people might shy away from that.  Seems that you're kind of actively chasing it.
ROBERT ROCK:  Well, maybe people that have experienced it and.

Q.  Don't want to?
ROBERT ROCK:  Don't want to do it again.  I want to at least say I've done that once.  I think it will be all right.

Q.  Have you ever spoken to him?
ROBERT ROCK:  Spoke to him this morning for the first time actually, which was pretty nice.  Said hello.  Chatted about a few little things but nothing important.

Q.  Is he an icon you looked up to?
ROBERT ROCK:  Oh, yeah, I think he is for every golfer that's in the field.  He's won 14 Majors.  He's the best guy I've ever seen play golf.  So get to watch a little bit more closely tomorrow.

Q.  And do you expect to be cacking yourself on the first tee tomorrow?
ROBERT ROCK:¬† Mm‑hmm. Yeah.¬† (Laughter) I'm not so sure how much sleep I'll get, either.

Q.  Maybe you can talk about just going down the stretch, 17 and 18, to birdie both of those, and remain in contention; you saw the scoreboard, so what were some of the key shots and what were you thinking?
ROBERT ROCK:¬† Both key shots, you have to hit the fairway on both holes to even have any chance.¬† I didn't hit a great drive on 17 but hit it a little bit high.¬† It didn't really go very far, so I had a 4‑iron into the green.
But we had the right numbers for that shot, and the wind was helping in the right direction for my shape shot as well.  Set it on the right line and it finished about four foot away.  That was the tricky putt the end of it but still, that was the main part of the job done.  That was the hardest hole, you could easily drop shots on there, too.  To birdie that, I felt that I was in with a shout being in the last group there.
Hit an average drive down the last and laid up with a wedge to about ten foot and that one went in to finish off a nice day.

Q.  You had your first victory last year, but to beat Tiger tomorrow, what would it mean?
ROBERT ROCK:  Oohh, can we deal with that tomorrow.  No idea.  It would be beyond anything that I thought I would do.

Q.  Could you have got up on the last in two?
ROBERT ROCK:  No.  No.  I didn't hit the drive well enough.  I think I had about 280 yards.  Paul Lawrie was playing with me, he was probably 15 yards in front and just about made it.

Q.  Could you just tell us what happened with the bogey on 16.
ROBERT ROCK:  I was in two minds what to do off the tee, whether to hit it down the right or try and find the actual fairway, or take it on and go a little left and risk going into the waste sand area, which makes the hole a lot shorter and I did neither and stuck it in the bunker.
Normally that would have been okay.  That was the sort of plan, to be a decent alternative.  But I got not a great lie, so I couldn't quite get it to the green.  And then left myself not a great chip, and then actually nearly made the putt, but it's a tough hole.

Q.  I think you're the only man in the field not wearing a hat.  Is that a policy decision, and isn't that costing you a lot of money?
ROBERT ROCK:  Have you got me a decent deal for tomorrow?  (Laughter).

Q.  Try.
ROBERT ROCK:  I don't want to wear a hat every single day, so I just choose not to.

Q.  I think Joost Luiten doesn't wear a hat, either, but I could be wrong.  Who is the biggest name you've played with, and what was that experience like?
ROBERT ROCK:¬† Good question.¬† I've played with Nick Faldo and Seve, and I played with Vijay Singh when he was world No. 1.¬† I think playing with Seve my first‑‑ I think it was my first or second European Tour event at Wentworth in a practise round, which was great to have the opportunity to do that.¬† Makes the rest of the week feel a little easier when you've played with somebody like that.

Q.  At what point do you actually stop thinking, this is great that I'm playing with Tiger, and now I've got to focus on the final round, and ignore what he does?
ROBERT ROCK:  I think when I've made decent contact on  the first hole hopefully, then I'll start playing the game properly.  But I'll just wait and see how I feel first of all.

Q.  What goals would you have set yourself at the start of the season, and how far would a win tomorrow go so early in the season to realising those goals?
ROBERT ROCK:  I think I set myself goals that are just really improving every year.  I won my first tournament but they are pretty hard to win.  I feel like I've got a little bit better, so I'd like to win more tournaments and hopefully one this year.  But that's as far as I go as setting goals really.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Robert, thanks for your time.  Good luck tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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