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March 4, 2014

Justin Rose


STEVE TODD:  We'll just make a start, welcome back to Doral.  Obviously a place which has been good to you in the past, but just give us your thoughts on this week and perhaps update us on the injury, as well.
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, for sure, a welcome back to Trump Doral, I'd say it's definitely a different Doral.  They have obviously been working hard at it.  A lot's clearly been done since last year.  Surprised how good of shape the golf course is in.  Just the greens are rolling really well and they have done a lot of good work to get it ready for this tournament.
Yeah, again, the golf course is a new golf course.  There's elements that you recognize, but pretty much the shots and the lines and obviously clearly the reads on the greens are all completely new, so yes, I played well here in 2012 but again this is essentially a new golf course.
STEVE TODD:  And the shoulder?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, the shoulder is definitely getting better.  I wouldn't call it 100 percent but I would call it on the way there and it will be a situation where I'm just going to continue to get stronger and stronger over the coming months and manage it well, and, yeah, feeling pretty good about it and excited about the run of three weeks in a row now and trying to really get some momentum going.

Q.¬† How close are you‑‑ I know you withdrew from Honda.¬† How close were you to playing at Honda?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, I was very close to playing at Honda, especially it's a course I've played well at.  I think I've been top five the last three years going in there.  It's been a tournament that I look forward to and I think it suits my game.
But maybe four weeks in a row starting the season coming off the back of a little something was overly ambitious, and I just felt like it was more prudent to not play.  I felt the shoulder a little bit after the Match Play when I got home.
So I just wanted to have a week of letting it really settle down and not compound things and not push it too hard, too early.

Q.  Talk a little about the difficulty, kind of standing on the green and kind of the past experience you've had, knowing if a putt maybe going left and now it's going right, talk about how difficult it is to override some of those past memories of Doral.
JUSTIN ROSE:  I think it's fairly easy because you almost feel a bit more disoriented out there things have changed a lot. Trees have gone and some areas have been opened up and obviously bunkers where there weren't bunkers and water where there wasn't water.  So you don't get the sense of being on the same golf course.
I think if they had literally just reworked the greens and everything else looked identical, that might mess with your instincts more, but I think you really just view this as a new golf course.¬† I would say ‑‑ I didn't even bring my yardage book from the past number of years.¬† So it's a clean sheet.

Q.  Did you watch Honda, the finish, and see everybody flame out sort of?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† Yeah, I caught‑‑ I think I switched it on and Rory was in the bunker on 17.¬† I didn't really realize the carnage that had maybe happened before that.
It seemed like a few guys got it to double‑digits under par at some stage, two or three guys were at least maybe at 10 at some point, but clearly it's a tough finish the but the whole‑‑ I think Adam Scott, I noticed when he finished, he was like 25th or 28th playing the last hole or 30th even.¬† I think he birdied 18 and he was 3‑under and lying 30‑something and he birdied 18 and he finished 12th.
Everybody, obviously the leaders struggled, but the mean average of the field, all struggled.

Q.  Did you watch it and halfway think:  If I had played it, I might have had a chance, or was the injury just too bad to think even about it?
JUSTIN ROSE:  No, it wasn't too bad to not think about it.  I could have soldiered on through last week, no problem.  But do you want to be doing that this early in the season when you're trying to get ready for hopefully bigger and better things.
8‑under par, 10‑under par, that's exactly the type of golf I love to play as a test.¬† So, yeah, that was right in my wheelhouse of where I have played well in the past.¬†¬† So of course, that's an opportunity I wish I would have been able to take advantage of.
But at the same time, if you go to The Honda Classic and you're not ready and you're not sharp, no matter‑‑ 8‑under, still the top guys are playing well; if you're not on your game, you're going to be 8‑over around that golf course.¬† So either I was ready or I wasn't ready.

Q.  Can you just walk us through sort of what you're going through with your shoulder in terms of rehab and how it affects your practice and all that sort of stuff?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, sure.  So basically just calming inflammation down out of my shoulder.  That's really it.  It's just tendonitis; so the tendon just gets angry if you do too much.
Basically, I've just got to re‑pattern the shoulder, get everything moving better around it, get the muscles hitting better.¬† Basically putting my scapula in a better position so the tendon doesn't keep hitting the bone.¬† That's what's irritating it, so there's¬† a lot of repatterning, a lot of boring sort of gym work and what‑have‑you.
So that's the process, really.   It's very uneventful, but just sort of have to be very meticulous and methodical in my warmups and icing down and just do that for probably the next month or so, and I imagine I'll be fine.

Q.  Has it limited you in practice at all?  Will it maybe impact your schedule, given it's a long year and the things you alluded to earlier?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, I really think I'm over the hump.  So from this point forward, I don't anticipate any of that.  Yes, I haven't hit as many balls as I would, but that's I don't believe a contributing factor to how I'm going to perform.  I'm feel like very comfortable with where my swing is at and what I'm working on, and it's allowed me the opportunity to work more on my short game, which I'm hoping will be a blessing in disguise.

Q.  You're far from the only top player who has had an injury problem recently.  Can we liken  that to scheduling issues?  It seems like more and more guys are picking up back problems, shoulder problems, wrist problems?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, it's a repetitive sport.  It's a repetitive injury sport. You do one thing over and over and over again, and things are going to give out.  I guess the guys you're talking about are getting into their late 30s.  I'm in my mid 30s almost.  I'm 33, coming up on 34 this year, and there's a lot of miles an the vehicle.  I've been playing golf every day since I was five years old.
I consider myself lucky I've never had a major injury, have never had surgery and got a good team around me to ensure that I never have surgery.
So this is all part of the job.¬† I mean, obviously you can talk about it all day long, but it's nothing, really.¬† It's just you've got to manage it and get on with it.¬† I think it's going to be‑‑ all of us at some point in our careers face a little hurdle.

Q.¬† The consensus among players is that the golf course is harder after the re‑design.¬† Would you agree with that?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I would agree with that, yeah.  It's tough to fit some tee shots into the fairway.  It was fairly calm this morning and I was still having a hard time picking the line and seeing the shot.  If you start adding the Doral breeze here and the crosswinds, it could be tough to get the ball in play off the tee or hit a lot of fairways.
And the greens, yeah, the greens are going to take some learning.  They are busy.  There's a lot more humps and hollows; but in saying that, that could also lead to some birdies.  Because if pins are in hollows and feeder pins, if you hit the right shot at the right time with a wedge, you can get the ball closer than maybe you could on a flat green.
So sometimes‑‑ it depends how they set the golf course up obviously.¬† If they use those bowls, we can make some birdies.¬† If they put them on the top of all the ridges, it's very tough.¬† So hopefully it will be a good balance.

Q.  Would you equate harder to better?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† Not always, no.¬† I think you want to challenge.¬† I think you want to have risk/reward on a lot of shots and sometimes that‑‑¬† that's Augusta, for example.¬† You have a lot of slope in those greens and if you hit the right shot, the ball feeds close and if you miss your spot, you're left with a really tough 2‑putt or an impossible up‑and‑down.
So that makes it exciting I think and in some ways that rewards the guys who are playing well and finds out the guys who are not playing well.
So I'm hoping that that will be what this course does.  I don't know it well enough.  I've just played nine and I'm just trying to get my head around it and hopefully it will play that way.

Q.  How important was the victory in the big picture that's culminated in you winning the U.S. Open?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† It was definitely, it kept me on what I said was a trend of winning bigger and bigger tournaments.¬† I felt lucky to win a couple of really good, well‑thought‑of PGA TOUR events and then I went and won a playoff event and then won a World Golf Championships.
So the pecking‑‑ the trend and the progression was getting bigger and bigger and it really only left a major.¬† So my story to myself was the next one is a major, working my way up the ladder.¬† So I'm kind of glad it turned out that way.

Q.  Do you still feel like you're the U.S. Open Champion, or was this a completely blank sheet you're working on?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† I think clearly you're the U.S. Open Champion for a calendar year, but for a rolling year‑‑ to June, but once the calendar year ticks over, you sometimes freshen your mental approach a little bit.¬† You renew your goals, you renew your energy and you renew your focus a little bit.
I actually took the trophy down to Seminole for the Member/Pro, or the Pro/Member, whatever way you want to call it.  That was the first time I've really had an outing with it for quite a while, so, yeah, my mind has probably moved on from being the U.S. Open Champion and on to the next one.

Q.¬† There's a fairly healthy list of guys on TOUR who have won one major, but a very small list of guys with two‑plus.¬† How much is that in your mind and how much have you set that as a goal?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Absolutely, I think I take a lot of encouragement and belief in looking at players of the past, Faldos, and even Phil.  Phil I think won his first major when he was 32 or 33, my age, maybe, correct me if I'm wrong.  But obviously great player before that, had many chances, could of, should of won more.
But if you go about your business the right way, and I think I'm going to create some chances.  It's just encouraging to see that you can still have that type of career, and that's a goal and a belief and yeah, a lot of hard work has to still go into achieving that and a lot of luck along the way, too.
Yeah, I'm looking at the big picture and doing by best to go for more.

Q.  Can I just ask your schedule after these three weeks?
JUSTIN ROSE: ¬†Yeah, right now I've got two weeks off before Augusta, sort of potentially thinking of adding another one just to see where my game's at, just sort of using those two weeks as re‑evaluate, really, how sharp I feel.
Then, yeah, obviously then it gets busy.  I think it's New Orleans, Quail Hollow, PLAYERS Championship, back at Wentworth, Memorial, U.S. Open.

Q.  Will you play Scotland before The Open?
JUSTIN ROSE:  I am thinking of adding Scotland this year.  It's on the cards.  A couple things, I felt like I haven't played well in  The Open Championship for a number of years now, and clearly that's disappointing.
So just changing my preparations a little bit and how I do things.  Maybe not take the family back home, because it gets so busy when I get back and maybe just go there, literally treat it as another tournament, get in, get out, don't get wrapped up in, I guess, yeah, making it a holiday, really, which is what happens every year.
So just go into that a little more focused.

Q.¬† You mentioned having a couple of weeks off before Augusta and re‑evaluating your schedule.¬† Obviously Tiger's status is up in the air this week and maybe in the future.¬† In your mind, how many tournaments do you need to get ready for majors?¬† How do you like to do it?¬† And again, I know everybody is different, so you can't speak for him but what's the general rule?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, Augusta is a tricky one, because you haven't played a major for so long.  I think the general rule is you feel like you want to have some confidence going into it.  You want to feel like you've been in contention and you want to feel like you've really tested your game under pressure going into a major championship.
So that's the ideal scenario.¬† You want to have played a number of times to give yourself the‑‑ put the odds in your favor of that being the case.¬† I would say I'm slightly undercooked from that perspective right now.¬† So hopefully these next three weeks can prove important for me in terms of building up that confidence and trust under pressure.
So looking forward to the Florida Swing.  It's a very important run heading into Augusta.  But they are all big and important tournaments in their own right, too.  But I'll try and use them as a block of 12 rounds to really get something going.

Q.¬† When they were re‑designing some of the holes here, didn't you come down here to make suggestions or watch them, and is there anything that you suggested that you see out on the course now?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† I walked‑‑ I had Gil come walk nine holes with me in my practice round last year and just talk about what their vision was and talk about some of the workings that they were thinking about.
And we talked more about the back nine to be honest with you, making the finish really exciting on those sort of ‑‑ 15 and 16 are dramatically different.¬† I haven't played those holes yet, so I'm looking forward to seeing how they turned out.¬† We did talk about 15, in particular, and I know it's a peninsula hole and just talked about how the ball feeds down to the left but at what point it feeds down to the left.¬† My view was to make use of the slope; that the player should have to hit an aggressive shot and take on an aggressive line and to get the slope to help him, rather than hit it in the middle of the green and get the slope to help him.
So basically to get the slope to be the last third of the green, that's what we talked about.  I haven't seen it yet but that's all I really remember from our talk and our chat.

Q.  "Undercooked" doesn't sound brilliant.  What are your expectations here this week?  A big event that you would hope to contend for the week; what are you expecting from yourself here this week?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† Yeah, I think that's just the reality.¬† I could tell you a million things.¬† It's just a fact.¬† I would have probably played more golf had I sort of‑‑ but I think it's such a long year that, again, what you lose now, you may gain in the summer.¬† There's no one who is fresh for a 26‑week season every week.
So there's the ebb and the flow and there's the growing  and there's the performing, and there's the learning and the performing.  So it's always a gentle ebb and flow and the tighter you get that line and the better you are as a player.
For sure, I still believe I can go out this week and win the golf tournament.  I've seen enough good things happening on the range and enough good things on the putting green.
But there's no substitute for competitive sharpness, so that's what I'm lacking right now.  But at the same time, I know that I can still go there and play great golf.  We'll just have to sort of wait and see.

Q.  If you had to guess, would you think the scores would be higher or lower this year or does it just still all depend on the wind?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Depends a lot on the wind for sure.  It depends a lot on the wind and the pin placements, very much so.  But I would say that we're trying to get the Blue Monster sort of back to living up to its name.  I think that's the whole idea of this revamp.
Shooting 20‑under par every year was certainly‑‑ to me, the golf course, the Blue Monster, really only relates to the 18th hole in my opinion before.¬† So now you have definitely a lot more interesting, tougher golf shots, a lot more penal misses out there if you hit a bad shot.
So I think it's now again truly a tough golf course, as I think it was back in the day.

Q.  Are you glad they didn't mess with the 18th very much?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† Yeah, it was the iconic hole.¬† It was a signature hole.¬† So I think if you change that too much, you really change what the golf course was all about.¬† So I think they added more trees down the left‑hand side, so again, just means you have to step up and commit to what is a daunting tee shot.¬† Yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing it.

Q.  Since you last teed it up, a new European star has been born in Victor.  I was wondering what your impressions of are him?
JUSTIN ROSE:¬† Well, sorry to disagree, but I‑‑ no, he is a superstar, don't get me wrong, but he showed his true colors back at the end of the year in Turkey.¬† Funnily enough, that week there was quite a buzz about him, so it didn't surprise me what he did but he really stepped up in Turkey.
His friend, Grégory Havret, played with him in the practice round, literally I think put money on him or said is, "This guy is going to win the golf tournament this week."  And for a guy who has never won a tournament, for someone to be so emphatic and to say this guy going to win this week, absolutely; and for him to go ahead and do it, just really showed that he was doing something special.
And on Sunday, he ran into some trouble.¬† I think he got caught ‑‑ had a big lead, got caught and finished off in style again and won by two or three.¬† So he showed a lot of us that he can really play hard and play well.
Clearly over here, a big, big sort of breakout for him on the PGA TOUR and to make obviously a big check opens up all sorts of possibilities for him, guarantees his Ryder Cup spot.  So, yeah, he's done brilliantly.

Q.  I know you have to turn the page on 2013, but you are a Major Champion that will be going to Augusta National this year where you've performed very well through the years.  How excited are you to arrive to Augusta National knowing that you're a Major Champion and you don't have to try to break your major duck, as it were, there, as you did in the past?
JUSTIN ROSE:  Yeah, absolutely.  I think when I first won on the PGA TOUR back in 2010, it was a big relief to me to not  every time I get into contention, not face the questions, is this going to be the first time, is this going to be the first time, is this going to be the week.
And you have to deal with that, and obviously every player has to go through that, but it's nice to not have to think that way anymore.  It's nice to know that you have a lot of positive experiences on which to draw and if you get yourself into contention Friday, Saturday, you know what's worked for you and you know what your game plan is and you know what your strategy is and it's a matter of going out and doing it. 
Doesn't make it always any easier to go out and do, but it's one thing off your plate rather than try and surmise and guess what you should be playing or what you should be thinking.  At least you have sort of a track record.
STEVE TODD:  Justin, thanks for joining us.  Good luck this week.

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