An Interview With: JUSTIN ROSE

 

KELLY ELBIN: Making his second Ryder Cup appearance for Europe, Justin Rose joining us at the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club.

Justin was 3-1-0 in 2008. He is coming off a second place finish at THE TOUR Championship last week to go along with a tie for eighth at the Masters earlier this year as well as a tie for third at the PGA Championship.

Justin, terrific year, and welcome to The Ryder Cup. You must feel good about your game coming in.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I mean, obviously very excited to be here now. I was trying to hold back that excitement for a number of weeks just because we've been playing so much golf recently. But you just get on the grounds here this morning and you realize what it's all about, and you sort of definitely once again appreciate how big a tournament this is.

KELLY ELBIN: Can you talk a little bit about gathering last night as a team and how all that went, please.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, sure. So everyone made their travel arrangements, all coming in from all different places. But we had a nice dinner together, nice and low key really. I guess not too much was said other than we are just going to go out and get to know this golf course a little bit.

Q. Just talk a bit about the team chemistry, if you will. José Maria was talking yesterday about the fact that teams used to play primarily in Europe and then sort of all come over on a plane together and a little bit of bonding going on; it's a little different now because you guys are sort of disparate, you're all around and you get to know the American courses better than teams of yesteryear. Just talk about the chemistry in that context, if you could.

JUSTIN ROSE: Definitely the team dynamic has changed over the years, and more of us play a worldwide schedule now rather than sort of just a tight knit European schedule which may have happened 15, 20 years ago. But also it's changed in terms of quite a few of us live in the same communities in Florida, myself, Ian Poulter, Peter Hanson, Graeme McDowell, we're pretty much neighbors, so from that aspect, what you lose playing on a tight knit tour you gain by actually pretty much living together. So we see each other on weeks off, we practice a little bit together, so I think that helps bond the team.

You come here, and you know, all of the relationships you have are very comfortable. But it's also fun. You do get to know guys on a slightly different level during The Ryder Cup, which is good fun, and you see different sides of guys' personalities, and that's what I'm looking forward to during the week.

And I think that only really, really happens once the tournament starts, once we are actually playing for one another. The first few days, guys are all pretty much themselves, pretty much how you see them on Tour, 51 other weeks of the year, but once we start earning points for one another, that's where the camaraderie and friendships really begin to build.

Q. Talk a little about the honor and the opportunity to play; you guys play in such an individualistic sport, but every couple of years, a very select few get this opportunity to come together and play as a team and to represent your continent. So if you could just talk about the difference of that type of motivation.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, sure. I think I've been on both sides of it. I realize certainly how hard it is to make a Ryder Cup Team. 2010, I had a good year and didn't make the team, so I'm very thankful to be on this team this time around, and I was incredibly motivated to make the team by my own right and not have to rely upon any sort of pick.

So it's nice to be able to sit here right now and appreciate that and just to be part of The Ryder Cup. I mean, it's one of the greatest sporting events across any sport; I don't know how you would define it, but it's got to be top three if you choose any sport.

And just to be an athlete or a professional sportsman competing in that sort of arena is what dreams are made of. I attended The Ryder Cup when I was a nine year old boy at The Belfry and looked up to these guys like they were gods, and you know, it's a bit surreal now to be following in their footsteps.

Q. Does it feel very different to four years ago, because you've been through it all, and been through it all in America?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think playing away for the second time, there's a sense of knowing what to expect. I have a feeling that Chicago might be even more boisterous than Louisville, so I'm expecting that.

I think having played more and more golf over here, I feel more ready for this Ryder Cup than I did the last Ryder Cup. But I don't think you can sort of ever know exactly what to expect with a Ryder Cup environment. It happens so rarely that we get to play in this environment that you just have to roll with it, I guess, and feed off it and be resilient out there, as well, because there's going to be a lot of things that happen on the golf course that you just can't  that just aren't normal to you and that are very different from regular tournaments.

Q. How important was that last putt on Sunday, both in terms of a mood setter for this week and for the confidence in what you've been working on for the past couple of months?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it was a big putt for me. I was beaten by the better guy on the day in Brandt Snedeker. He played very, very well on Sunday; he made putts and he chipped and he did everything he had to do. I felt like I played well, as well. To slip into a tie for second would have been a bit of a stinger. I felt like I took a lot of positives out of the day because of that putt on the 18th green.

Actually I was sort of thinking that I didn't putt well that round of golf, and I actually thought about the round and I actually putted really well on the back nine. I hit a couple good putts that didn't go in, as well, so I've got to be positive about that. I did; I missed three short ones around the turn, on 6, 7 and 9, but other than that, I actually putted nicely.

So that's the sort of  I've been working on quite a few things with my putting, and on a Sunday like that, when you're under a little bit of pressure, that's where they really get tested. And although I missed a couple, I felt overall I'm beginning to see progress, which I'm really enjoying.

Q. Would you be prepared to hit the first tee shot on Friday morning? Are you prepared that you might be asked to hit the first tee shot?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, that's part of the deal, that's part of what you sign up for. You have to be prepared to do it. It's not going to be easy, but you're prepared to do it, absolutely.

I haven't seen  it's difficult to manage it now. I haven't seen the first tee yet. I haven't seen how they have it built up. At Louisville, I thought actually the arena at first tee was quite small. And I've seen like at Celtic Manor and The K Club a bigger atmosphere on the first tee. I haven't witnessed it this year.

Q. Do you have memories of your tee shot in the Walker Cup? You were not the first to hit in the Walker Cup but you did hit from the first tee on the first morning.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I did  it's a funny story, I like it.

I'd prefer to remember my first Ryder Cup tee shot which I striped down the middle. I'll just hasten to add that.

But I'll go with a Walker Cup story. I hit it out of bounds, but the funny thing about hitting it out of bounds, I was a 17 year old kid, my partner, don't want to throw him under the bus here, but Michael Brooks, he was adamant that he did not want to hit the first tee shot, so the irony was I hit it out of bounds so he had to then step up and hit the provisional, so he was hitting off the first tee, so I kind of enjoyed that.

Q. The disappointment of Valhalla, has that added motivation? I assume you don't want to go through that again.

JUSTIN ROSE: For sure, I would love to taste a celebrating team on Sunday evening, to be part of the joys and the jumping around and the bouncing. What I've witnessed on TV over the years, I'd love to be a part of that. The Europeans since '95 have been dominant in this competition, and obviously the one I've played  well, there's been two losses in that time and one was the one I played at Valhalla, and certainly I would like to rectify that for sure, because two years is a long wait to have the opportunity to do it again.

A couple of things I want to achieve in my career: One is to play on a home team Ryder Cup and the other is to obviously win The Ryder Cup. So we can take care of one of those this week.

Q. You're talking about the putting, and at Valhalla, the thing the American Team was so good at that week was supreme putting. What have you been doing with your putting and who have you been working with to improve it?

JUSTIN ROSE: I've been working with a chap called David Orr who Sean Foley put me in touch with. Sean's known this guy for quite a number of years. It was just understanding, really, what I was doing wrong, and what I was doing was I was trying something different on the putting green every week, and that's not the way to improve. So basically I just went to have a chat with him, got a little bit of an understanding of where my flaws were and then just put a plan into place to work on it.

There's absolutely nothing ground breaking, just trying to work my way back towards what would be a neutral stroke, technically correct. I was having a hard time on left to right putts, I kept missing them to the right, so there was clearly something awry, and that's it, really.

Putting is an interesting part of the game because you can have a perfect stroke and not make putts. It's not about having a perfect stroke, and that's the balance that I need to find. You know, the stroke side of it is improving, but the artistry of putting is a whole different thing, and that's what I'm  I know that I can putt well no matter what the stroke, is what I'm saying, when you get into the right mindset.

Q. You mentioned you're expecting a boisterous Chicago crowd. Can you elaborate on that a little bit as far as maybe what you know about the Chicago sports fans and maybe the impact that that could have on the match.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, obviously I was very fortunate here to win the BMW Championship at Cog Hill, and I remember that very, very well. Obviously the crowds came out in force and supported the tournament. This year we moved to Indianapolis so there's been a year without golf here, so I just think the golf fan will enjoy coming to The Ryder Cup and turn out in numbers. And obviously The Ryder Cup attracts people from all over the world.

But the Chicago sports fan, I've never been to a Bears game or a Cubs game or a White Sox game, but I do have some friends that live in the city and basically they can be walking along and if a TV is on, everyone stops to see what the score is.

So very passionate sports fan, and one of the biggest and best cities in America. So it's going to be a fun place to play.

Q. A guy dressed up as a ghost, I believe, jumped out on Lee Westwood at Valhalla. I don't know if you remember that. Are you prepared for any of that kind of stuff? What memories have you got or stories have you got from Valhalla of your interaction with the American fans?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I do. I vaguely remember that. I never witnessed it but that's a bit of a bizarre  not what you expect, is it.

You have to expect the unexpected this week on all levels. Just even if there's nothing sinister about it at all, you just have to expect noise; you have to expect roars going up from other parts of the golf course that might influence your pre shot routine. Just got to try and be as resilient as you can out there. And if something crazy happens, do your best to laugh it off. I mean, at the end of the day, our job is fairly simple. It's just to play as good of golf as we can, and that's what we try to do every week, and we have our own set of tools and skills that we rely upon and just trust them.

I don't think you want to try to be thinking about anything new this week to deal with that type of stuff. You've just got to hope that what you've learned over the years is good enough.

Q. I just wonder if you think there's inspiration to be drawn from having Seve's image on the bag.

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. I think with José Maria, very closely, you have Seve Ballesteros in terms of a link and as a partnership in The Ryder Cup. You know, it's fantastic that José Maria is the captain, and you know had Seve been around, I'm sure he would have been a big part of this team, and it's nice that he is still a big part of this team.

Q. Did you get to know Seve fairly well?

JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I did get to know Seve well. He was one of the few guys, I would say, when I was struggling on Tour when I first turned pro, he was one of the few guys to put his arm around me in a sense, more metaphorically, but just to give me some words of encouragement. I remember my first Masters, actually, he just said, well done  because my first Masters was a breakthrough for me, I had turned pro and gone through some struggles and then having achieved some success to get there. He was just really nice and complimentary. There's some video footage somewhere of me chatting to him and my mom meeting him and you can see my mom blushing and stuff.

Seve was definitely a special character. And I played with him, a stroke against him, in the Seve Trophy. I got to know him well enough, really. And one of my favorite memories, winning my first tournament was the Memorial Tournament, and Seve was the guy being honored that year from the Memorial Tournament. And a couple times during that win, I had some tough short game shots, and Seve sprang to mind and was sort of trying to picture how Seve would have tried to play the shot. He was definitely with me that week and I got a couple of them up and down, and I had one of my greatest keepsakes is the book from the Memorial that Jack had signed to me, and Seve has also signed to me  because I relayed the story to Seve about how I thought of him and he wrote back and got him to sign my book. That's something that I will cherish forever.

KELLY ELBIN: You tied for 41st here at the PGA Championship in 2006. Anything you recall about the golf course that week?

JUSTIN ROSE: I have to say I'm disorientated right now. I couldn't tell you where the practice range is, the first hole. Really very, very few memories. I know I feel like there's two or three shots that feel quite similar over water, par 3s. I'm looking forward to seeing 15, is it, that they have changed maybe to be a drivable par 4.

So those are my very vague memories to be honest with you.

Q. Playing with Ian four years ago, did you learn anything about him that you didn't already know?

JUSTIN ROSE: No, I had seen the good, the bad and the ugly long before then.

You know, not really. That's the great thing about Ian is that he does remain himself no matter what the occasion, no matter who he's with. And that's what I love about him. We roomed together on the Challenge Tour where neither of us had achieved anything in the game, and you know, for the most part, he was the same fun loving, confident person he is today. That comes out, obviously The Ryder Cup just really gets the juices flowing and brings out the best in him.

That's what  you know, he's an easy partner to play with from that perspective. So he soaks up all  I think we complement each other well from that perspective, and who knows what's going to happen this week, but I can just be myself, which is a little bit more on a level and he can be the excitable one, and it works quite well.

KELLY ELBIN: Justin Rose of Europe, thank you very much.

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