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January 16, 2013

Justin Rose


PAUL SYMES:  Justin, many thanks for joining us, your first time here, I assume you're looking forward to getting started out there.
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, absolutely.  I think this is a great place to start the season on many levels.
Obviously there's a great field assembled here and that's who you want to compete against.  The other thing about playing in the desert is you typically get a golf course that's in good condition.  So a perfect place to start the season and see exactly where your game's at.
PAUL SYMES:  Obviously a nice break for you, but how easy or difficult is it to turn that competitive switch on again?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† The break has not been that long really.¬† I played late into the year last year:¬† Australian Open, finished about the 11th of December; did a bit of travelling to see family and really only got back to Florida on the 20th of December.¬† It's been a quick turnaround, but playing these two tournaments in the Middle East and then have another three weeks off; so I view this as the middle of my off‑season.
PAUL SYMES:  Last night's important announcement naming Paul McGinley Ryder Cup Captain.  Give us your initial reaction to that.
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† Yeah, obviously I think I'm very excited for Paul.¬† Very pleased for him.¬† I think that could well be a career‑defining moment for him.¬† So it's obviously a huge honour and I think one that he's clearly going to take incredibly seriously and I think he'll do a fantastic job.

Q.¬† Are you a goal‑setter at the start of the season?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Not in specifics, I'm not.  I sort of have the notion that you can almost limit yourself sometimes with your goals, and if you create too lofty goals, you kind of then don't buy into them.
If you look at a piece of paper and put things:¬† Win all four major, win seven tournaments, have 20 Top‑10s, you kind of look at it and go:¬† Ah, do you really believe that.¬† But I believe in the process.¬† I believe in what I'm doing.¬† I believe in how I can improve and where I can improve, and you know, that's what I tend to focus on, and I believe that the good things will flow from there.

Q.¬† I remember speaking to you at The Race to Dubai, and you said you had a few goals in mind and some things you wanted to work on in your limited off‑season, as you say.¬† Just wondering if you've been able to achieve most of those things?¬† And you said you wanted to spend some time in Sydney with your wife without the kids for a rest and refresh for 2013 to have a real crack at the year; are you ready to take a real crack at the year?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, absolutely.  I think I obviously believe myself a lot, a lot of confidence going into this year.
As regards to areas of my game that I'm working on, it's going to be a constant sort of grind a battle to improve.  I've I implemented a change into my wedges and put some different shafts into my wedges to give a little more feel.  And I think that's an area that I really have not spend enough time in the past.
So from a hundred yards in, I've been focusing a lot this off‑season, which is good because it translates to all the things I work on in my golf swing.¬† It's helped my wedge play; so inadvertently by working a lot on my wedge play, it's helped my golf swing, too.¬† So that's an area I've improved.¬† And putting; I've started working with David Orr last year and I've seen some flashes of brilliance I would say, but need the consistency to bed in and that will come with time, as well.

Q.  Is there any changes you plan on making to your schedule in year, or anything you want to do differently to maybe mix it up a bit to try to see if you can kind something different?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Not particularly.  Obviously I've added this tournament in.
I've felt like I wanted to get off to a strong start on The European Tour and not have to play catch‑up so much at the end of the year, trying to fit in tournaments.¬† There's obviously a bit of a change in schedule with the PGA TOUR starting its 2014 season this year.
So I feel like playing a little bit early now has given me the flexibility to tailor my schedule both ways at the end of the season, should I need to focus on Race to Dubai or 2014 FedExCup, we'll see.

Q.  Looking at how The Ryder Cup captain announcement occurred over the last few weeks, how open it was, the player input; obviously there was a lot of support for Paul, as opposed to the American system.  Would you rather have it the European way where the players seem to have quite a bit more input, as opposed the players in the U.S. really don't?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I think ultimately it does have to boil down to the players.  The players are the ones who hit the shots.  I think the captain's role needs to be basically that:  Just give the players the freedom and the confidence to go out there and do their thing.
So I think you want the players to be comfortable with who is calling the shots and who is going to be make the decisions that week.

Q.  Did you feel that you needed to get involved in some way either through Twitter, or making your point clear, about Paul getting support from the players?  There was a sense that obviously Rory McIlroy was making quite a strong effort to be saying, Paul is the candidate, Monty shouldn't should doing it twice.  Was there a sense there was a campaign going on outside Paul McGinley, as such, that he needed some help?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I didn't feel a need to go out on a limb and put anything out there that was controversial in any way.  I felt comfortable with both candidates, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley at the outset.
I felt that Darren obviously felt that he did a lot of thinking and thought, well, he's recently The Open Champion and he has all of the exemptions in the world to play all of the big events, which maybe he should be focusing on his golf, which to me played complete sense; and to me left McGinley as the obvious choice as the other candidate.
Monty came into the picture to combat the big name of Tom Watson, and I felt like maybe that's something that the European Team didn't need to do.  I felt like we have a pretty good thing going right now in The Ryder Cup and there was no need to counter the U.S. decision.
And I felt that from‑‑ I've only ever been around Paul, really, in The Ryder Cup.¬† I haven't been around Monty in The Ryder Cup.¬† So that was for me what I was judging my decision on.¬† And I felt‑‑ I had quite a lot of conversations with Paul at Medinah.¬† Just thought that he went about things very thoroughly.¬† And tactically, I believe that he'll make some very good decisions.
Like I said, if you had good, solid fundamentals and does decent tactics, the rest is down to the players.

Q.  Compared to some of the other European players, you're not too familiar with the Gleneagles course.  Would you consider trying to get there ahead of the match, and what would it mean to you to play in The Ryder Cup in Scotland?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Well, that's one thing I'm very motivated to do is play a home Ryder Cup.  I've played two, one was Valhalla and the other was Medinah.  So to experience a home crowd is something that I really want to do.
I would say I'm somewhat familiar with the Gleneagles course.  I would imagine I've played that tournament two, three times, possibly even four times back in the day.  Haven't played it for a number of years.
But as a Tour player, you do get very adept to learning a golf course within a couple of days, and I think within a team environment like The Ryder Cup, everyone pulls their thoughts together.¬† So you have sort of team meetings about the golf course and how certain holes should be played and how they should be played in a match‑play format.
So I think getting there ahead of time is maybe not as essential as it might be if you were playing an individual stroke‑play event.

Q.  With regards to Paul, seeing him work as a vice captain, what would you have down as the main personality attributes he has that will make him a good captain?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† I think just sort of quiet, calm.¬† I don't think he's going to get‑‑ I don't think he's going to overthink things too much in a sense.¬† I think he'll go in very well prepared, that is for sure.
I know over the years, as a player, probably since his first Ryder Cup, he's basically taken notes, if you like, of everything that's happened during the week, good and bad, and he's learned from them.  I think that's something that I can't say that I've done at Valhalla and Medinah.  You tend to just turn up and go with the flow, and I think that's something he's been a lot more diligent about than a lot of other players.

Q.  Could I just ask you about the majors this year?  The PGA last year, did you approach that any differently to the others, and will you do anything differently this year?  And your thoughts on the major venues.
JUSTIN ROSE:  Well, interestingly enough, the PGA I think is the one major that is very difficult to approach differently.  You maybe approach it differently to other majors because you're forced to approach it more like a regular Tour event because it comes at such a busy time of the year and comes off the back of the WGC at Akron.
So in a sense, you could argue that maybe you should treat majors a little bit more like regular tournaments.  But I think Augusta, the way the schedule falls this year, a lot of guys are going to be taking two weeks off prior to Augusta.  I think that's what I'm going to do.  That is something slightly unique.  We'll see how that works.
I feel very comfortable turning up there, and I've always done very well there and I feel like it's a course that's good for me, but it's a course that is good for a lot of players:  It's good for Phil, Tiger, Rory, Bubba, Keegan Bradley, for example.  It suits a lot of players, Augusta.  So I don't see that I have any particular edge, although I feel good there.
U.S. Open, I definitely will prepare for, might try to get to Merion.¬† It's a course I've not seen before.¬† I feel like that's the type of venue that will really suit my game.¬† For example last year, good ball‑striking year, U.S. Open‑style test might be something that will suit me.

Q.¬† Your thoughts with Rory and Tiger here this week, what impact does that have on you coming into the tournament?¬† And also, the fact it gets so much attention, here you are a Top‑10 player and all of the headlines are Rory and Tiger; how do you feel about that?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I'm good with that.  They clearly deserve it.  Rory is the No. 1 player in the world, and Tiger is arguably certainly the best player of our generation.
So they deserve the headlines.  I'm totally fine with that.  I like to sort of prepare, and coming in under the radar is never a bad thing.  Happy to have the boys have the limelight.
But I'm glad that they are here because those are the guys that you want to be coming down the stretch against and those are the guys that if you win the tournament, it validates it.¬† You really come away feeling proud that you've beaten a world‑class field.

Q.¬† Another schedule question, with the change on the PGA TOUR to the split‑calendar season, will you do anything differently in the fall in the back end as far as after the Playoffs, playing more, playing less, going into the next season?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, that's kind of why I wanted to have a lot of my European Tour commitments cleared up before I get to October, for example.  So I could maybe get ahead of the game on the 2014 PGA TOUR season.
I haven't quite figured it out yet.  But the way I see it is that if you play the PGA TOUR from January to September, you've got to play about 20 tournaments to be competitive.  Now you can play 20 tournaments from October to September, so it gives you a longer period of time to fit in those 20 events.  That's kind of the way I view it.
So I don't know quite how that's going to impact my schedule, but it might mean that it does make a few more natural breaks in the year.  Like I say, I'm trying to figure it out still.

Q.  So you would actually maybe play more in the fall, maybe play the HSBC and CIMB, something along those lines?
JUSTIN ROSE:  To alleviate a little bit of pressure through the summer, for example, where it might be a good time to play a little bit more in Europe or a good time to take a break if there's been some busy periods before and after.

Q.  Changing clubs, the advantages are presumably money.  What are the disadvantages?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Well, you know, disadvantages of just not knowing 100 per cent exactly what's going to happen and what's going to happen under pressure.
I think every club has a characteristic in a sense, and you can test clubs all day long on the driving range, but they always just feel a little bit different on the golf course.¬† Or you have to‑‑ it's like anything, you have to go with confidence with them on the golf course and confidence comes with results I guess.
So it may take a little bit of time.¬† You have to be patient.¬† Obviously I'm not even talking from Rory's perspective, putting in a new line of tailor‑made drivers and what‑have‑you, you can get it to a point on the range where the numbers are perfect on TrakMan.¬† But you get out on to the golf course and you miss a couple in the left rough, and as a player, that's something that you don't like to see.
You want to feel like you have a stock shot with it; that you can always get it in play.  And until you've got that on the golf course and until you've got that under pressure, I think you don't really know.
But that's the thing with a change, you have to make that change in order to get that confidence; you have to putt i in play.  You have to try and see what it's like under the gun.  You have to be quite bold with changes, as well, and make them.

Q.  What is the longest time do you think it would take to adjust?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I would say you're going to know one way or the other within three tournaments I would say, good or bad.

Q.  In terms of The Open at Muirfield, there's quite a number of players now I don't think have played it, but you have in The Open and I think you played as an amateur; do you remember much about it and do you like the course?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, I think it's one of the best links courses that there is, and I think one of the toughest.  I think it's a really demanding golf course and one, again, I'm really, really looking forward to.  I'm looking forward to that challenge.  I think it's another one where I feel like I'll have a great chance.
2002 it was, I think I teed off within a couple shots of the lead on Sunday.  I played with Tiger the first two days, which at the time was a big deal.  I was 20, 21, I think, I had a big summer and got paired with Tiger.  Had a decent first couple of days, or had a decent first day and then a poor second day and teed off early on the Saturday and shot 68 and I think that was the day where that horrendous weather came in.  I was back home at the house having a cup of tea and climbing the leaderboard rapidly.  Ended up the day in third place.
It was a bit of a been fight, there were so many guys within a couple shots of the lead, there might have been 15 guys within a couple shots of the lead on Sunday and a four‑man playoff, am I right in saying.
But yeah, a great venue and one that I'll certainly be preparing hard for.

Q.  Will you be turning up in a flash car?
JUSTIN ROSE:  No Austin Powers this year (smiling).  Like I said, under the radar.

Q.  Back to Tiger and Rory, apologies.  Do you think with what Rory has done in the recent years and the big Nike deal this week, as a star attraction, has he closed the gap with Tiger?  Are they on equal footing, or is Tiger still the main man and do you think the two of them need each other?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† Yeah, good questions.¬† I think you have to still say‑‑ well, the old saying:¬† Form is temporary, class is permanent.¬† You have to give Tiger credit for winning 14 majors.¬† He still is incredibly current and he's still I think the man really that everyone looks to see how his form is first and foremost.
Rory is definitely a legitimate world No. 1 right now based upon his play, and I think the one thing we saw last year is that Rory has certainly learned to win, especially in Dubai.
That's one thing that he's certainly improved massively in the last couple of years is how he closes out tournaments, and that's what you have to do to be world No. 1 and that's what you have to do to obviously go on and be a legend of the game.
So he's certainly got those attributes now.  Tiger has done it year after year and Rory still has to continue to keep proving himself year after year in order to get to the same level where Tiger is.  But I think they do need each other from that point of view.  It's going to keep Tiger sharp and keep Tiger on his toes and keep him hungry, as it will all of us.

Q.  Your timing is perfect, back to The Race to Dubai, obviously Rory found a way to fend off your fantastic final round challenge.  You got phenomenally hot that day and it was brilliant theatre to watch.  What do you take away from that final round?  Does it plant a seed to keep the spark to jump ahead to 2013 to say I can really mix it with the big boys, for want of a better term?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, I've seen guys steal tournaments in the past, and it's something that I've never done before.  I've always sort of done it the hard way if you like, when I've won tournaments.
I've always put myself in and around the lead early in the week and battled my way through the tournament and ended up winning.  I've often teed up with a lead going into Sunday and had to win it that way.
So I have not really won many tournaments sort of coming from behind, so that one was one where I fell‑‑ you see guys like Tommy Two Gloves, for example, come out of nowhere and shoot 62 or 60 and win a tournament.¬† I was always thinking, wow, what an easy way to win a tournament:¬† No pressure all week and bang, you've done it, and I thought that was going to be the one week where that happened for me.
The other thing I learned that week is that you have to stay patient, all week long.  You never know when you're going to get hot and you never know when your round is going to happen.  It was probably a lesson in patience Thursday, Friday, Saturday; just keep hanging around and keep believing that something special can happen.

Q.  Does it seem a different life ago that you were here playing with the press opening this course?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, you reminded me of that last night.  I knew I had been here before, but I couldn't remember what for.  So you press were obviously really memorable (laughter).  Your game was obviously... noteworthy.

Q.  Yours at the time?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Mine at the time was probably on a very similar level.  (Laughter).
I remember the Falcon Clubhouse and I remember that being something very different and very cool.  But yeah, when I went out there yesterday, I couldn't tell you that I remembered any particular hole.

Q.¬† I wanted to ask you about Kaymer who has won this thing three times.¬† Where were you when he made the winning putt at Medinah?¬† And can you in any way relate to the pressure that he was facing with that 5‑footer on the last hole; if he misses it, Tiger has a chance to win The Ryder Cup, and he three‑jacks and he's the dog.
JUSTIN ROSE:  My recollections were firstly, I finished my match against Phil, an amazing moment, and I went into the clubhouse to compose myself.  Went into the locker room for five or ten minutes before I went back out to support the boys.  And I remember watching past a huge table of champagne that was already out, and I just kind of walked past it and I knew that we had a chance.  It was still a long shot.
But I just walked past that table of champagne and I went, I really hope that my point meant something at the end of the day, because at that point, might have been great to have won your match; but close, but no cigar.
So went to the locker room, came back out, saw Sergio's match come in.  Obviously that was a tough loss for Furyk there.  But then when Sergio won that match, I felt like, wow, this is really on.
I then dropped back to hopefully see Molinari get in the house against Tiger, and then Molinari loses 17, and now I'm thinking, oh, this is tied.  And I'm obviously now watching on the monitor and I think myself and Ian Poulter were back on the fairway 150 yards out watching Kaymer putt from a distance.
And that was the hardest thing.  It was just a moment where Molinari loses 17, Martin hits a bad first putt at 18, and all of a sudden you were like, we were at the finish line and it was about to be this amazing comeback.  And it was just a sense of, it's going to be close, but you know, heartbreak at the end.
But obviously he stepped up and hit the purest putt I think he's ever hit, I've ever seen.¬† I can't imagine what that felt like.¬† Because of what a sensational comeback it was; to have sort of fallen the last hurdle would have been probably even more soul‑destroying, I suppose.
I certainly know the American coverage, while he was lining up the putt, cut to Langer at Kiawah and where he built the drama, and there is another German lad with exactly the same putt and exactly the same opportunity.  And as we know Germans don't often miss penalties when it counts (laughter) as us English have learned the hard way.  For once, we were sort of backing in.
It was just a great moment for him.¬† Obviously he had a tough season to that point and it was just great for him.¬† But he's a world‑class player.¬† He's a true professional.¬† And I think one thing that I've been really impressed with Martin is his work ethic and the way he's conducted himself through a tricky period.¬† It has not been‑‑ it wasn't a terrible run of golf, but he was world No. 1, and you expect a lot of those guys.
But the way he handled himself and the way he continued to work hard at his game paid off at that moment and he deserved it.

Q.  You were observing that Tiger/Rory dynamic and that they seem to have something and other players hold them in such high esteem.  But from your own point of view, how far are you from that status, because you probably had as good a year as you've had last year, you played fantastic, won a tournament, played great in The Ryder Cup, etc., etc.  How far are you from closing that margin and being in that class as far as other players?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Well, I think status is something I'm a long way from, but I believe my game is not far at all.  I think that's two very different things.
You know, I'm very happy with my skill set.¬† I'm very happy that I can close the gap or hopefully make the gap disappear with some hard work and some‑‑ just continue what I'm doing.¬† You know, the status is obviously something that's left everybody else but I think from a golf point of view, that's what I'm excited about is that I'm very close to the very top end of the game and I still feel I have a lot more to give.

Q.¬† Is it not the case, though, that you can close that gap by seeing yourself as that calibre?¬† Why wait for others to elevate you; can you not elevate‑‑
JUSTIN ROSE:  That's what I'm saying.  I think status is in the eye of everybody else.  I think from a golf point of view, I feel very comfortable where my game is.  I know what I need to improve and I know how I'm going to do it, and I back myself and I feel comfortable standing up in that situation now and believing that I have the tools and the skills to compete.

Q.  When did you start to feel like that?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† I think Ryder Cup was big for me.¬† Just really making putts when I needed to.¬† That was huge.¬† And then backing it up, in Turkey I think; even though Turkey was a casual type of environment, it was still going head‑to‑head against the world's best.¬† That was again another big week for me confidence‑wise.
And then Dubai again, I think just the way I went down the stretch there, I had it going‑‑ I had my final round going but then didn't let up.¬† Just kept hitting good shots and I felt like the more the pressure was on, the more calmer and better I became.
Especially the two shots I hit on 18, the two swings I made on 18.¬† I played 18 with a two‑shot lead and hit birdie, split the fairway and did everything I felt that I had to do to win the tournament.¬† Obviously didn't win, but in my mind, executed as if I had won.
So there's three very positive experiences in which I can draw.  You know, this game is ever easy.  You just have to keep putting yourself in that situation, and there will be times when you're in that situation, you feel comfortable and you don't win.  I just know that if I keep doing what I'm doing, those chances are going to come more and more often.

Q.  Do you no longer doubt that you can do things that you've seen them do before?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, I know what you mean.  I now begin to trust, I don't need to do anything different in order to, one, put myself into contention; and two, I trust my processes enough now to believe that I can deliver under pressure.

Q.  And how recently did you not believe it?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† You know, maybe even when I won the Memorial and I lost the Travelers and I won the AT&T, even in that hot three‑week run that I had back in 2010, it was still hard work and very conscious and very‑‑ I was still learning those sort of skills at that time.¬† Then I think winning wire‑to‑wire at the BMW was a big confidence‑builder for me, feeling comfortable under pressure.
It's just slowly gotten better over time.  I think you just learn; the more situations you put in, the easier it becomes.  I think when you're in contention twice a year, it's very difficult because you need to make the most of those two times.  If you're in contention ten times a year, each time you're in contention, it's easier and it's also less critical that you make it count that day, which makes it easier, anyway, if you know what I mean.

Q.  Just going back to the 18th in Dubai, you didn't mention the putt.  How many times have you thought about that since, and what have you thought when you thought about it?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Well, I think it's the best putt I've ever missed, for sure.  Yeah, it was a sensational putt, it really was.
It was a tough putt because I remember looking at it and going, I could put this in the water, was one of the things I thought.  If I got it going over that ridge with too much speed and it rolled about eight feet past the cup, there was another little false front that would have fed it right into the water.
So that's why I obviously had to be incredibly careful with the speed in which it went over the hill, and there might have been obviously an element of luck that I judged it to perfection.  But I knew that when I visualise the putt, I walked to the top of that hill and visualised dropping a ball and I realised it would feed all the way down to the hole. 
So my caddie made an interesting point.  He had the flagstick and he was watching the putt and in his mind, it was always perfect.  And then he watched it on TV and he was like, I don't know how that ball got over the hill.
So it was an amazing putt obviously, and at the time, I thought I'd won the tournament.  But you know, like I said, hats off to Rory for five straight birdies to finish.
PAUL SYMES:  Thanks a lot, Justin.

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