The PGA Championship

An Interview With JUSTIN ROSE

August 13, 2003

Julius Mason: Justin, welcome to Rochester, New York.

Some opening thoughts and we'll go to Q&A.

Justin Rose: Obviously it's good to be back in the States. I obviously enjoy my time over here. I finished in fifth place at the U.S. Open and that brings me back to the U.S. for the PGA here this week, with good feelings about playing in America and good feelings about the week.

Q: You get asked this every time you come over here, but given your developmental curve, do you see yourself playing over here more and more, do you have a timetable on that, or are you going to be the Ernie Els, Sergio type; split-the-difference guy?

Justin Rose: Well, obviously Ernie with his G-4 makes it pretty easy to play a world schedule.

I do find that quite exciting, appealing playing around the world. And at a young age that's good for your golf game, you learn the odd little trick by playing a diverse range of courses. Certainly my eye is more and more on the states. I feel like I've had a little bit of success over here. I've enjoyed playing over here.

Top-50 in the world right now is the key for me to playing the schedule that I want to play, which is say a dozen or so tournaments over here and a nice full season over in Europe, too, at the moment.

Q: How do you feel your form is coming into this event, and also, how much of a bearing do you think your performance in the U.S. Open is -- how much of a bearing do you think that might have this week?

Justin Rose: Well, I think what I learned at the U.S. Open is that my form does not have to feel fantastically good for me to get a result out of the week. At the U.S. Open I stayed very, very patient and I was mentally very good and my week got better and better as it progressed. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday my game did not feel so good but then Thursday scrambled around. So that gives me encouragement this week that I don't necessarily have to be on top of my game.

But, obviously, if you're looking at winning this golf tournament, you have to be on top of your game and I'm a lit more encouraged with the way I feel now than, say, leading into the U.S. Open.

Q: How hard is this golf course and have you played a harder one?

Justin Rose: I think the only saving grace right now is the fact that the greens are relatively soft. The tight areas of the fairway are pretty much the further you go up. So I think especially on the front nine, you hit a lot of 3-woods and that lays you back quite a long way in the fairway. It's a long golf course already, but when you're being forced to hit 3-woods that are like 460 yards with no run you are going into the green with 3-, 4-, 5-irons. A lot of the greens are pretty narrow in depth, so if the greens are firm and you're going in with 4- or 5-irons, you've got a hell of a job. But they are soft you have to hold that sort of a shot.

To answer your question, it is a hell of a tough course, but maybe the weekend at Olympia Fields was probably tougher. But obviously we are not at the weekend yet here.

Q: Along those lines, the finishing holes, 17 and 18, can you talk about what type of challenge they present and how they might impact the championship?

Justin Rose: I remember watching some Ryder Cup footage, actually, from a good few years ago. I had a picture of those holes in my mind and when I arrived here, I was like, "Wow, this is a brute of a hole." I don't know how much length they have added to both holes, but 17, you've really got to hit a good drive to kind of get it up onto the top of the hill to have a view of the green. Both holes, if you miss the fairway, you have no chance. You're laying up and you're going in with a wedge.

But if you hit a great tee shot, 17 you're going in with 3-iron and 18 you're going in with 5-iron. So to win the PGA Championship, you are going to deserve it when you lift the trophy.

Q: Of the demands that are made on you by this type of course and typically a U.S. Open course, are those the kind of demands that really make you tick as a golfer?

Justin Rose: I think they -- I like it when level par is a good score because obviously, it tests every aspect of your game. You come away from the week knowing what you've got to work on, what you've got to improve on, what your strengths are and what your weaknesses are. I think courses like this, they do show up your weaknesses obviously much, much more. You can't get away with that much.

Saying that, if you do have a slightly rocky day, say, off the tee, you can scramble it around with your short game. It's a great, great test all around, really.

Q: At this time last year, you were making -- I think I'm right in saying -- your first appearance in a major championship over here.

Justin Rose: Correct, yeah.

Q: Can you tell us how you've improved, do you think, in the 12 months since then?

Justin Rose: That's a good question, really. Obviously, I turned up here in America this time last year, Thursday would be my very first round of golf in America as a pro. So I didn't really know what to expect. A lot of European guys have come over to America and not done particularly well. So you never know quite what you're up against.

I got into the week from the word go. I think I shot 69 the first round at Hazeltine, was line third and from then on felt very comfortable about playing in America. So I think I banished, I don't know -- banished , I don't know, the aura of playing in America, if you like. I have knocked up some decent results, fifth at NEC and the U.S. Open, and I've had some positive results when I've come over here, so I think that alone makes me a better player.

Q: Did you set specific targets for this season and how close are you to achieving them?

Justin Rose: Obviously, yeah, my targets were quite high after the good season I had last year. I would say right now, I'm not really -- right now I'm probably underachieving, obviously with the pace of my goals. But I've had a bit of a re-evaluation at the mid-point of the season. Still looking at the world ranks. I said I wanted to be Top-20 come the end of the year. To be Top-20 from this position now -- I think I'm 37 now -- my World Ranking has maintained itself this year, which is never a bad thing, but I need to have a strong end to the year. I certainly want to be lifting one piece of silverware by the end of the year.

Julius Mason: Justin, thank you very much for coming down. Good luck this week.

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