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June 19, 2013

Justin Rose


MARK STEVENS:  Like to welcome Justin Rose.  Congratulations on your big win last week at the U.S. Open.  Good to see you.  You kind of had a whirlwind trip through New York City yesterday, and getting ready to make your eighth start here in the Travelers Championship where you had three top 10s in your three previous starts.  Kind of take us back to the win and your thoughts coming into this week, and we'll take some questions.
JUSTIN ROSE:  Absolutely.  To win a major championship and to win the U.S. Open it's a moment you really hope is going to happen in your career.  And I say hope, because there have been so many great players throughout the course of history that haven't quite managed to have everything happen for them that one week.  It's something I've been working towards; it's something I've dreamed of, and to have it, I can say finally happen.  Obviously, I've been a pro 15 years, but probably only in the last two years felt ready for that moment.  So in a sense, to have it happen so soon, I'm just delighted.
MARK STEVENS:  Also, why don't you give us a quick recap on your time in New York yesterday?  We all saw some of them as very exciting, kind of give us your take on yesterday.
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, I think it's just an exciting thing.  Just to be in New York.  It's obviously the world's biggest, brightest city, so to sort of be in the hustle and bustle for a day is fun.  I was just doing my best to try to soak in being the U.S. Open Champion.  Went on some great shows, shows I've seen on TV, and then to be a part of it is a slightly surreal moment too.
I enjoyed every experience.  Everybody made it very easy for me.  Everybody was incredibly warm and sending their sincere congratulations, so it was a really fun day.

Q.  What went into your decision to keep your commitment here?  After winning a major a lot of guys would be on a beach this week or something and celebrating.  Is it a matter of when the iron's hot staying on fire?  What is your thought process?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Twofold.  You've said I've played it seven times, I guess, and it's a tournament I really enjoy.  I enjoy coming to Hartford.  I feel like it's almost an old school PGA TOUR event.  It's got a lot of history to it, and I just feel like it's got a really nice vibe here.  Really loyal fans that come out and watch.  I've always had a really, really good time here.  Obviously, I think the tournament has treated me well over the years.  So as a tournament, I was excited about playing again.
The way I've set up my preparation for the U.S. Open, I've set it up as a three‑week run, mentally just trying to stay fresh for three weeks.¬† The way I prepared for the U.S. Open, only getting there Tuesday night was intentional to play well at the U.S. Open, but I knew I was also playing two tournaments on the back end of the U.S. Open as well.
So the whole thought process has been a three‑week run, so I figured I won't interrupt that.

Q.  Obviously, you were the last one standing.  There are people though when looking back at the tournament will say the course was the star of the weekend.  Is that necessarily a good thing or a bad thing?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† Well, I think we've had some low scores winning the U.S. Open of late.¬† Generally people think that's not the way the U.S. Open should be, so the U.S. Open got back to being the grind it's supposed to be, I suppose.¬† I think it's a good thing that the course ultimately showed its teeth.¬† I don't know how much the USGA really needed to be even par, but that is sort of the common thought process is that even par, they try to achieve that for the winning number.¬† So obviously, the course did win, if that was the case because one‑over is the best we could do.
But I think it was a brave move for the USGA to go to Merion.  I'm glad they took that move just to demonstrate, and it might be a sort of learning curve and learning lesson for golf course design in the future.  It doesn't need to be so long to make it such a challenge.  I thought that was just fascinating to see how the course held up.

Q.¬† You mentioned staying fresh as a three‑week stretch.¬† Can you talk about how you're mentally feeling given you went through this whirlwind yesterday and you're getting here Wednesday and you have to tee off tomorrow?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, this week is going to be somewhat of a let's wait and see how I play.  I'm going to have to sort of be lenient on myself from that perspective.  I think, obviously, my game is in good shape, and I hope it carries through.  But from a rest point of view, I wouldn't be as rested teeing off tomorrow as I would be.  But hopefully a couple of good night's sleep and you can catch up pretty well.
I had a decent night's sleep last night, and it was great to see the kids.  Last night was the first night I've had a chance to see the kids.  Obviously, winning on Father's Day, I made it about my father, but the fact that I am a dad as well, I was really looking forward to seeing my kids and being able to share the good feelings with them as well.

Q.¬† Winning a major is kind of a life‑altering experience.¬† What is the best thing you've learned about yourself over the weekend?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Like I sort of said earlier, you never know if it's going to happen for you.  You think you're good enough, you can tell yourself you're good enough, you can tell yourself you're ready and you can believe you're ready, but until it really happens, you just don't know.  So now having had that experience and having had that confidence in myself, I feel like I can stand up, put one foot in front of another, make good swing after good swing in that environment.  That's just something that I can sort of be proud of.
When I look back on my career, I can say I did that.  That's a nice moment.  Ryder Cup, for example, might have been a stepping stone towards that.  I felt a very similar experience there, just the pressure that you face in that environment.  That, for me, was more about making putts under pressure, and that was sort of telling myself that I could do that.  And the U.S. Open was about, I guess, hitting golf shots under pressure.

Q.  To play off a previous question, do you suspect that your adrenaline can get you through a week like this, or is it potentially inevitable that at some point you hit an emotional or mental wall with all you're going through outside of the normal four rounds of golf?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I think adrenaline can get you through.  Especially if you get off to a good start and get yourself up on the leaderboard.  You can then start to focus on the tournament, and start to focus on winning a golf tournament.  But I'm also aware of the fact that it can go the other way as well.  So I think probably just need to be a little bit easier on myself this week as well.
But I'm still hoping‑‑ hoping is the wrong word.¬† I'm expecting to go out there and put in a good performance.¬† I still think that the same discipline I showed at the U.S. Open apply this week, and that's how every golf round should be played.¬† So that will be my goal this week to be as sharp as I can mentally.

Q.  Take yourself out of the mix, obviously for Merion, is that a course where you think the U.S. Open should go back to or could go back to?  Could you see it going back there down the line?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† Well, now I'm sort of part of it‑‑ you said take myself out of it.¬† It's hard to do that.¬† But logistically, it was incredibly difficult.¬† They must have faced so many challenges.¬† I think it would be fantastic to see it with better weather earlier in the week, to see it with a little bit of a bounce in the ball, to see how that would change the way it played.
The fact that it might play shorter because of the run and whether that would impact‑‑ because holes like five and six, I mean, five was driver, 3‑wood for a lot of the guys throughout most of the week, and for a lot of the players.¬† But if it got firmer, you could use the camber off the fairway there, and hit 7‑iron, 6‑iron, so a lot of those holes had changed, but a lot of the easier holes would get harder because of the firmness.
So I'd love to go back there and play again and hope for firmer conditions, just to use it as a case study to see firm versus soft.

Q.  In these last three years, it's obviously been a good run for you.  Where was the turning point in that to get to where you were prior to that to where you are now and obviously this week?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I think 2010 was a turning point in my career.  I had won golf tournaments around the world, but I think not until I won on the PGA TOUR did I start to really develop that depth of confidence.  Winning the Memorial was a fantastic win, getting that monkey off my back.  Every time I was in the States I had to answer questions about this is your 120th start, or whatever it was, and you haven't won.  So it was nice to get that out of the way.
But I won the Memorial from chasing the pack, and then I actually came to Travelers this week and let a lead slip, and I went to AT&T the following week, so that was a three‑week run of being in contention every week.¬† So that's what I'm hoping might happen here.¬† Then I went to AT&T, built a big lead and closed it out, but only just.
So, again, the learning curve, another win under my belt, but not winning in the fashion that I was really, really proud of.  So, again, more learning experiences.  Then my third win at Cog Hill, a playoff event, and another elevation stature of event.  I won wire to wire there, and that was, again, more confidence.  Then winning a World Golf Championship at Doral on Bermuda, which I think we were talking about that, I had never played particularly well on Bermudagrass, never won on Bermuda.  Again, another step forward for me, so that's been another step forward for me.  That's been my progression.  That's where I've developed more of the confidence and the ability to get me to this point.

Q.  Was there a single moment in there where you felt like you were ready to win a major?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† I think last September with Ryder Cup, and then the World Golf final in Turkey where I played Westwood and I played Tiger, and I managed to come out on top in a very good field there and go head‑to‑head with those guys.¬† And I made putts when I really needed to in these matches and I pulled out shots when I really needed to.
Around that time I started to think that I could do this.¬† And Dubai the end of last year, I was playing the last couple holes.¬† I shot 62 and 10‑under on Sunday.¬† On the 18th hole, stepped up and made two great swing and made almost a miracle two‑putt down the green to what I thought win the tournament.¬† Rory buried the last five to sort of tip me.¬† Again, I stepped up when I needed to hit the shot.
That's kind of where my confidence has developed to enable me to maybe get it done last week.  It's definitely been a slow, slow journey and it's taken its time, but it feels great to have gotten there.

Q.  You mentioned Adam Scott and how you'd been somewhat inspired by him winning The Masters, and he had said you're next.  Can you talk a little bit about why that is?  We've heard similar stories in the past of guys getting inspired by maybe somebody that they came up with.  Somebody that is the same age that they've competed against.  Also, have you had that conversation with somebody else and said, oh, you're next, mate?  Are you going to pay it forward, and who should we be looking for?
JUSTIN ROSE:  The way it works with Adam, it's a little vague.  I don't know word for word.  But when we were texting back and forth in April, he basically said this is our time.  Kind of saying, we're 32.  We've in a sense paid our dues and we've had a lot of experience under our belt.  It's now or never in a way.  It's our time to go and get it done.  Basically saying I'm good enough, you're good enough.  It's our time, so good luck.  That was kind of the message he was passing forward.
The way I see Adam, and I take a lot of confidence from is how he dealt with the heartbreak really.  Like Rory did at The Masters.  He came and won the U.S. Open, and Adam lost the Open and came back a couple majors later and won The Masters.  It hit me really at the U.S. Open that if you're not willing to experience the heartache and heartbreak of losing a major, then you can't really truly play your best stuff and be free enough in the moment to get it done.  If you're kind of apprehensive to what it might feel like to lose, I think for me that's just what struck me.  I was good with the fact that you just have to put yourself in that moment time and time again, and be willing to just keep knocking down the door.  That's kind of what I learned as well from Adam.

Q.  (No microphone)?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I don't want to curse anybody.  There are a number of players who can do it.  There's been a whole host of English players that have been good for a long time.  Westy and Luke, and Poults, Paul Casey for a long time as well.  Hopefully he can make a run again.  There have been some great players that have had their chances and it hasn't quite happened for them.  Hopefully I hope that this is going to be a little bit of inspiration or motivation for them to step up.
Other guys who seem to play well in majors all the time.  Jason Day, he's young enough now.  He's young enough and accumulated a lot of great experience under the gun.  He's gotten to the finish line in majors right there.  So if he just keeps doing what he does, hopefully he'll breakthrough as well.  There is lots of good, young, talent as with.  Obviously, Rickie Fowler is a great prospect, and he's beginning to mature into a player that can win majors.
I think he had a low score on Saturday, I think, so, yeah.  The future is bright for a lot of guys, obviously.

Q.¬† Do you enjoy days like today?¬† The Pro‑Am days there are a lot of fans going to be chasing you for autographs and guys hacking up the course a little bit.¬† How do you handle days like today?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† For me the Pro‑Am is a really important day of the week.¬† When you've been on TOUR quite a few years, you often just use the Pro‑Am as your practice round, just refresh your memory.¬† So it's important to look at the golf course, and it's obviously an important day for the sponsors, too.¬† That's really what it's all about.
The Pro‑Am, I always try to give back to the guys that I play with as much as I can.¬† I think you get out of the Pro‑Am what you put into it at the end of the day.¬† If you make it a fun day, it goes quick and everyone has a good time and sets up a good week.

Q.  Congrats on the big win last week.  My question is what were your thoughts coming down the last fairway at Merion last week?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, I mean, the tee shot was just about really picking a target, making a great swing and just trying to stay in my normal routine as much as I could and making sure I focused on my rhythm.  Because in a moment like that, the tendency is to get a little quick.  But once I got the tee shot away, I kept my eyes just kind of locked forward.  I didn't look left; I didn't look right.  Just kind of stayed looking forward and staying in the moment.
As I was walking over the bridge across the quarry I heard someone kind of shout out a good iron shot and two putts and it's yours.  So I pretty much knew what I had to do from that point on.  Although you should never listen to someone in the crowd, really.  That could have been dangerous.  They could have definitely been trying to throw me off.
I walked over the hill because of the blind tee shot.  When I got over the hill I saw my ball sitting perfectly in the middle of the fairway on the up slope.  The shot that I had hit in practice, and I thought this is my time.  It's a photograph I've seen a thousand times with Hogan, and I had too much time to think about it, because Luke had hit it right off the 18th tee and was taking a drop.
I walked to my ball and thought perfect 4‑iron.¬† I had 230‑something to the hole.¬† But the number in my head was 15, the minimum carry over the false front.¬† The more I stood there, the more I looked at the flags in the distance, and the more I thought is that wind into me?¬† If it's into me, I don't know 4‑iron gets there.¬† Maybe I need to cut up a 3‑iron.¬† I don't know.¬† That wind is picking up.¬† Anyhow I had way too much time to think then ultimately I just thought, okay, it's a perfect 4‑iron, get up there and get a good shot, and fortunately that's what I was able to do.

Q.  Justin, you used the perfect word for last weekend, a grind.  Whether it was yourself who won or the other guys who played, when it is a grind like that, coming here this week and playing this course, does it make it even more fun to play a course like this after it being such a grind last week?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† Yeah, I think so.¬† It's a perfect week for the week after a major.¬† I felt that after Hilton Head after The Masters and this week after the U.S. Open, it's a great balance.¬† It's a good atmosphere to keep you up, but at the same time it's a really fun course to play.¬† It's got its challenges out there, but the challenge is can you go low when you need to go low?¬† For a par 70, you do get ‑‑ it's fun to be able to shoot in the low 60s, if you play really, really well.
But you've still got to put four good rounds of golf together around here.¬† It's never 25‑under round here.¬† It's, I guess, 18 or something like that. ¬†So still good, solid golf needs to be played every day.
So, yeah, looking forward to the slight breather from scoring point of view, but at the same time, that presents its own challenges.  You've got to be pretty hot with your scoring clubs and your wedges.  Doesn't necessarily make it any easier sometimes.

Q.  Obviously, your mind is on your game, but what goes through your mind when you're paired?  Are you ever intimidated or amused by your opponents what, if anything, do you talk about during 18 holes of golf?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Pairings can make a difference, and sometimes it's a subconscious thing.  Sometimes it's just an overall feeling you get in the group.  I never try to get too excited or disappointed with my pairing because I never want to let that affect my performance.  Saying that, I was excited to play Luke Donald last week.  Our caddies are very good friends.  But, again, sometimes with that, it can create maybe not the right environment in which to play your best.
I said pre‑round last week, Luke and I are great friends, but at the same time, there is not a lot of talking going on on the golf course.¬† We're both going to be focused on our own game.¬† I guess when it gets to the final stages of a major, it almost doesn't matter who you're playing with.
But last week had some unique circumstances.  I think it was a perfect situation.  Pairing two groups back, slightly removed from the happy birthday songs and the Phil kind of crowd as well.  It was, I think, a lot for that grouping to deal with.  A lot of energy in that group, and that can be a fantastic thing if your game starts going well and you can feed off of it.  It can be difficult to deal with if you're struggling to get your round going.  I kind of felt like everything worked out perfectly for me last week.

Q.  You mentioned adrenaline can carry you through.  What are you going to do to get your mind off of golf over these next few days given everything you've been through the last four or five days?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, the kids normally do a very good job of that.  They couldn't care less about the big shiny trophy and the house, to be honest with you.  My little boy for Father's Day made me like a clay trophy which he colored in.  So I told him that was my favorite trophy in the house, so he's good.  Like his little trophy, he's happy that's my favorite trophy.
So just spending time with the family.  Just really trying to get some early nights in this week and recharge from that perspective.  The other thing I need to do this week is just eat well.  I feel like I haven't had a meal at a regular time in three or four days.  Almost since breakfast on Sunday, I've just been eating on the run.  So get back to some good habits.

Q.  Justin, could you take us through emotionally after putting on 18 and sweating out watching Phil finish off, what that was like for you going through your head?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, emotionally I think the most emotion really was tapping in, and then I didn't really let myself think about my dad during the round because I just knew that's not what he would have wanted me to do.  As soon as I did think about him I got emotional, so I waited until the very end.
But it was important for me to honor him in that moment.¬† I haven't had a moment in the last 11 years or whatever it's been now to where I could‑‑ where there's been a perfect situation to thank him and honor him for all the hard work he put into my game.¬† That was my moment.¬† Win, lose or draw, I felt like I acquitted myself well and he'd be proud.¬† That's when I could just look up and thank him.
I felt like I had done enough to win the tournament at that point.  But you certainly don't want to overcelebrate.  I learned that in Dubai with Rory finishing with five straight birdies.  So anything could happen still, especially with Phil.  You never know.
Watching your fate or your destiny kind of unfold in front of you on TV, you'd rather be in the last group and win it, but, absolutely.  It's always a strange situation basically needing someone to miss a shot for you to win.  It's an awkward moment, but at the same time, say if Phil had pitched in, he showed me that courtesy at the Ryder Cup.  If someone pulls out a great shot on you, you have to just take your hat off and say fantastic golf, fantastic shot.
But I could also let my emotions slip a little bit because the way the USGA do it, the playoff was on Monday.  So it wasn't like I had to keep my game face on and think in 20 minutes, I would be back on the 18th tee.  So I could allow myself to get a little emotional.  So it was nice to let my mind race, let my mind run.
As Phil was playing the last, I was taking a look around Merion, the clubhouse, and trying to soak up the history of the place.  Just sort of wonder what it would be like to be a part of it.

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