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February 11, 2014

Justin Rose


MARK STEVENS:  Like to welcome Justin Rose to the Northern Trust Open.  You're making your ninth start at Riviera and just your second of the 2014 PGA TOUR season.  Want to talk about your thoughts coming into this week, and then we'll have some questions.
JUSTIN ROSE:  Absolutely.  Well, nine years, that's crazy.  I knew I was familiar with Riviera but I didn't realize I had played that many times.  It's a great place for me to start the true 2014 calendar year but good to be back playing.  I've had a long time off now.
I played a lot of golf late into the season last year and if I'm honest, I played a little bit injured, a little bit hurt.  I was hoping that the Christmas break would clean things up but I had to work a little bit harder at my fitness than that but it's really good to be back out and really looking forward to start the year here at Riviera.

Q.  Can you just update us on the injury and how you're feeling?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I'm feeling good.  Like I said, a lot of hard work went into me being here.  It was a race against time to really get back playing and get back strong, and if I'm honest, I've only really been hitting balls, drivers, for about a week, ten days now.  So it really has been down to the wire.
But I figured that I wanted to get out and play, and if I wanted to play well in the near future, I thought it was important for me to get out and play some competitive golf.  My game's felt really good at home.  I'm swinging it really nicely and everything technically looks really good.  Had an opportunity to spend a lot of opportunity on my short game, but when you get a scorecard in your hand everything is a little different.  So I wanted so make sure I got my season underway.

Q.  What was the diagnosis?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Basically tendonitis of the right supraspinatus.  I think basically more an overuse injury than anything else.  Like I said, I played pretty much from October last year with it not perfect.  I assumed a little bit of rest over Christmas would heal it but it didn't really and that's when I knew I needed to put a little bit of extra time into it, but nothing serious, nothing torn, no surgery required, nothing like that.  So that was the good news.

Q.  Talk about your experiences playing this course, and usually the weather's been awful the last several years but it's supposed to be great this week.
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, I watched from afar last year, and I've always played Riviera with typically soft greens and I think last year for the first time in a long time, it got really firm if I'm right in saying.
Like I said, I didn't play, but that makes this course a challenge and you know one that I enjoy but for me, I've always felt like I've played well at Riviera.  I've never really contended to win because I've never been able to putt four rounds together here but I think I shot everything from 64, 65, 66, 67‑‑ I think I've had all the numbers but I've never put four together.
But it is a course I enjoy.  It's a course that suits my eye, and hopefully four rounds can be strung together this week.

Q.  How high do those numbers go?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, I'm trying to set my intention a little better than that but they probably go up towards the 77 number probably.  I think I've spread the map here.

Q.  You said there was sort of a rush to get back to play.  Do you feel like heading into the Masters, it's important to play a certain number of events or to feel like you're getting in contention going into that?  Is that kind of what you mean by saying rushed?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, exactly.  If you want to play well in Florida, it might start now.  If you want to play well at Augusta, it might start now.  If you want to play well this week, it definitely starts now.  You definitely can't do it sitting at home.
Like I said, I work really hard every day diligently, did my rehab, didn't miss a session.  Just did everything I could to get ready to play this week; and that was my goal and my intent, and it's nice to be here.

Q.  A few years ago at Humana, you talked about being between two worlds; you said you missed tea here.  Now as the U.S. Open Champion, do you feel like you're just as much a part of America as of Great Britain?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think so.  I found a good tea at Starbucks now (laughter).  And I can say the word "acclimated" instead of "acclimatized," so I think I'm getting there (laughter).
Yeah, I'm definitely comfortable on this tour.  I've got a lot of friends out here.  This is where I've made the majority of my golf now, really since I would say 2005.  It's where my head's been at.  Always felt like that was going to be the transition for me to win Majors was going to be for me to do well on this tour and that's how it worked out.
Once I started winning on the PGA TOUR, that was the breakthrough I needed to get my confidence going to contend in majors and Ryder Cups and things like that.  Maybe it took a couple years longer than I would have hoped, but the transition, the progression was as I intended it to be by playing my golf in the States.

Q.  From playing late last year, did you do anything that might have tweaked it or exacerbated the situation?
JUSTIN ROSE:  If I trace it, I threw a ball to my caddie at The Barclays.  I threw a ball 60,70 yards behind the fairway when I was playing with Tiger in the third round and I really kind of hurt it at that time and managed to play my way through the rest of the round and the rest of the week.  Actually I nearly won the tournament there, and it settled down quite quickly.  But I think that was the moment where it just never‑‑ it started to flare up from that point on the rest of the year.

Q.  60 or 70 yards?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, just threw it to far really.  Speaking to people, when you throw an object that has no weight like that, your body doesn't really‑‑ the deceleration or whatever is what it has a hard time with.

Q.  Where was he standing?
JUSTIN ROSE:  He was down the fairway, and he had stayed back to rake a bunker or something.  I was on the green and threw it back to him and etc., etc.  But that was the moment where I felt I did something.

Q.  How do you feel then about the Match Play next week?  Any consideration?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, my intent is to play, absolutely.  My intent is to play four in a row now.  So the Match Play is interesting; if you go really deep into the match play, I think that might alter my Florida schedule a little bit.  I feel like that week can be half a week off or it can be a very intense week.  You almost play that one by ear.  I certainly don't want to over‑golf myself straightaway after coming off not playing much golf, but certainly my intent is to play next week.

Q.  Sorry to jump ahead, but Doral just re‑opened and I understand you were very interested in the re‑design of that and went out and walked with the architects.  Is that something you've taken more of an interest in as you've gotten older in your career, golf course architecture?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, absolutely, something I'm very interested in.  I've always said if I wasn't a golfer, I'd like to be an architect and that's more coming from sort of building houses or designing houses, kind of always enjoyed that process.
But naturally there's a fit there with golf course design.  I was probably keen to make sure they didn't change it too much after having won there in 2012.
But clearly there's been some big changes.  My caddie actually has already gone down and walked the course and seen it, and I think that to live up to its name of the Blue Monster, I think it definitely needed some revamping and certainly the resort did, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they have gone.
Gil has always done a great job I think.  I like their ideas and their thought process on the golf course and how they wanted to make it a more exciting finish.  Obviously 18 has always been a dramatic hole, but leading into 18, having another two or three other holes down the stretch that were going to be exciting risk/reward holes.

Q.  What's your assessment of this course from that point of view?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, I love this course, from a classic point of view, I think it's just got‑‑ the rough doesn't seem to be up.  It's a really good iron play course.  You have to work the ball off the tee, which again, I really enjoy, and it's just got a very unique look to it.  Some of those sort of old white, sort of gnarly looking trees into the bottom end of the golf course makes it look quite a dramatic‑‑ and the bunkering is also very rugged‑looking.  So to the eye, it's a pretty golf course.

Q.  With the U.S. Open going back‑to‑back Men's and Women's, they might ask the guys to limit shots in the practice rounds to help save the course; how do you think that will go over in terms of preparation?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I'm not sure.  I mean, guys want to be prepared 100 percent.  So I don't think people are going‑‑ might be respectful and not just hit pointless shots but I think guys are going to do whatever they need to do to be ready to play a major championship and I think that's going to be the way it's going to be.
So I don't quite now.  I haven't played Pinehurst.  I don't know how the green complexes are.  Obviously I know there's a lot of run‑offs and I'm sure there's going to be a lot of use of the netting at the bottom of slopes with collection areas and stuff like that, but I've also heard that the fairways are going to be a lot wider than a typical U.S. Open, which means that the spread of divots typically on the fairway might be less of a problem than on a 20‑yard wide fairway in a normal U.S. Open so that might be a good thing.

Q.  Can you talk about the experience of being a Major Champion, and has it been any different than you thought it might be as far as your time and just the feeling of it?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I'm certainly living with it now in the sense that it feels six sort of eight months down the track, I feel very comfortable with it and there's definitely an adjustment period with it, absolutely.  I thought it was difficult for me to be prepared for The Open Championship.
The Majors come around so quickly that when you win one, it's just shown me how impressive it is for some guys who have competed week‑after‑week and have won Majors are and are back in it the next time, how impressive that is to win it, deal with everything that comes along with winning it, keep your preparation, keep your practice going and keep your mind‑set going, especially in the summer.
I feel like if you win Augusta, you have a few months to really get rid of that feeling but June, July, August come around so fast that I think should I put myself in position to win another one this year, I'll understand what I should and what I shouldn't do immediately afterwards and what I'm going to have to do to keep my head in a good position to compete in the upcoming Majors because it's a very condensed time of year.
So that was a big learning process for me but it's all been great.  I still catch myself smiling at home when I see the trophy, and you know, you get very comfortable with it in your house.  The thought of losing it makes you want to prepare harder for the U.S. Open again this year.

Q.  You just said that there's this adjustment period after winning The Open and the things you now know that you should do or shouldn't do.  Can you give us some examples of what those are and also, how long was the adjustment period before you got back to where you felt like you were comfortable competing again?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I would say it took me from the U.S. Open to The Barclays, probably to however long that is, probably six, eight weeks, that I felt I was actually ready to play again‑‑ before I was back in the moment.
You know, going home to the U.K. after winning was always going to be a big return after winning the U.S. Open.  So that was probably‑‑ I don't think I could have avoided much there to be honest with you.  But just not‑‑ I think‑‑ it sounds weird, you can't enjoy it too much in that period of time.  You almost have to say, I'm just going to really curb all the celebrations and the true enjoyment until the end of the season.  If you let yourself go too much down the celebration path, I think it's very hard to get back into the present quick enough to play good golf three weeks later.

Q.  So you understand why it took Adam so long to go back to Australia?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, absolutely.  I think that's probably a smart move obviously in hindsight, but for him, clearly there weren't any reasons for him to go golf‑wise until then.  But clearly that also looked like a huge homecoming and great for the game down there.  There's a lot of distraction that goes with it, but like I said, it's something you would very happily deal with it again.

Q.  And your focus coming into this year, obviously everybody says they come to an event their playing‑‑ your focus long term, is it Florida, Augusta, defending the U.S. Open and where are you‑‑ what's your immediate focus?
JUSTIN ROSE:  My immediate focus is just continuing to improve as a golfer and really have the discipline every week to go out and execute my skill set, which I believe is growing and getting stronger every week.  So that's how I'm going to play my best golf.  That's how I'm going to contend in Majors.
Certainly I want to be 100 percent come April.  And I think that that's what I'm working towards, but I know I can play good golf starting Thursday and I know I can play good golf in Florida and I know I can play good golf in the Majors.
But it's every day that I'm focused on, really, and working hard.  This year for me is about just doing all the right things.  I don't have to change anything this year.  I'm not trying to do anything different this year.  I'm just trying to putt into practice everything that I've learned the last ten years, because I think my game is right there.

Q.  Graeme had said at the end of last year that given the depth and the competition, that there's going to be a couple of big names left off this Ryder Cup Team.  It's getting harder and harder to make it.  Do you agree with that and does that concern you at all?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, it could be the same way with the U.S. Team the way things are shaping up.  They are both kind of very similar in a sense.
That just shows you the depth of the TOUR I suppose.  There's now 20 to 30 guys who can make a Ryder Cup Team, as opposed to 15 possibly on both tours.  Captain's picks might be even tighter than they normal are.
At the end of the day, you know, The Ryder Cup is‑‑ it's about on the week, I think.  Form often doesn't mean that much; it's which team gets inspired.  It's which team gets the MoJo going I suppose.  But either way, it will be a tightly‑fought qualification process and it will be a tightly‑fought match imagine.

Q.  Do you have any good Paul McGinley stories?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I mean, not really.  I know that he's just‑‑ he seems to be on it, on every decision.  His thinking, he seems to be ahead of the game from a preparation point of view.  He seems to be, you know, doesn't want to be bothering the players.  He did quite a few things with us six, eight months ago because he didn't want to bother anybody the last four or five months running into it, just let us play and let us focus on getting on the team.
So far I think he's done a great job as a captain.
MARK STEVENS:  Thanks for your time, Justin.  Best of luck this week.

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