Justin Rose British Open Press Conference Transcript
JUSTIN ROSE: Obviously I got off to a really good start, par, birdie, birdie. I saw my name on the leader board straightaway, which was a nice start and capped off the front with an eagle on the 9th which suddenly shot me to the top of the leader board. I think the back nine played a little bit more difficult. But I was happy overall.
Q. Justin, after all the speculation and advice about playing with Tiger the last couple of days, how did you handle it and how did you like it?
JUSTIN ROSE: As I was trying to say yesterday, I was going to try to focus on my own game, stick on, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I was pretty nervous on the first tee, it must be said, more nervous than I've been all year, to be honest, but I nailed a 2-iron down the fairway, which settled the nerves pretty quickly.
Q. You say you're happy overall. Are you more than happy, because you've come through what is obviously a new experience?
JUSTIN ROSE: I didn't know exactly how I was going to react, but I did know I had the ability to cope with it, and so in that sense, it's nice to have done all the right things out there.
Q. That must be, though, a different experience from playing with just any other player because of the pressure, that tension from outside?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yes, Tiger was the one player. There definitely is an aura about him. I think the first time you play with him it is a bit of an eye-opener but I didn't get caught up in watching him or all the stuff that goes on around him. I still felt focused on my own game, and realized the Open Championship is an important tournament for me; not just playing with Tiger Woods, but the Open is important.
Q. You outscored Tiger Woods today. What's your feeling about putting that in perspective for the next three days?
JUSTIN ROSE: I made a couple of quid on the 18 holes today. I think I got 5:2 odds. Outscoring Tiger today, doesn't mean anything for the rest of the tournament, it's just the first day. At the moment I'm joined leads, so I'm happy with the score. I have a feeling somebody is going to make a couple more out there this afternoon, but it is a nice position to be in after day one, day one, and day two is jostling for position, shot-for-shot, getting your name on the leader board come the weekend.
Q. Talk about how the course played and course management, was it playing very calm out there today? How did that affect the way you attacked it?
JUSTIN ROSE: This course, you have to really think your way around the bunkers, they are incredibly well placed. There are a lot of irons off the tee. I hit my driver three times and my 3-wood once, I think. There are a lot of irons out there, which makes strategy very important. It's all about getting the ball into play off the tee and attack it as much as possible from fairway to green, that's the way I see the golf course.
JUSTIN ROSE: The first tee felt very similar to Birkdale, to be honest, the crowds, five, six deep, whatever they were, and hitting a 2-iron off the tee, and not looking very big. It did have that sense. Actually I said to my caddy on the first tee this is a little bit what Birkdale was like, and then walking down 18, I felt like I got a really good reception too, which was nice.
Q. Did you play more defensively on the back nine, or was it just how the balance ran for you?
JUSTIN ROSE: I didn't play as well on the back nine, basically, is the reason. I hit a shot that's been sort of bugging me over the last couple of weeks is a slight pull with my irons, and I hit a few of those on the back nine, but made a few good up-and-downs out of the bunkers, but basically didn't quite play as well on the back nine.
Q. Tell us about the eagle on 9.
JUSTIN ROSE: I hit a 2-iron from the tee. There is a horrible bunker that's about 265, 270, so I hit a 2-iron, actually I was basically right on the edge of it. I was a little bit lucky and the best shot of the day, which was a 4-iron, 244 yards to the hole. It was a little short of the green and then rolled it in left to right, which is the way the green slopes. The noise of the crowd made it definitely sound like -- it sounded like it was close to going in for two. That was the best shot of the day. The putt was obviously missable. It was a 5-footer uphill right to left, and it was really nice to make the putt.
Q. So you were focusing on your game. Was there any conversation between you and Tiger or was it --
JUSTIN ROSE: There really wasn't any conversation. Very complimentary about -- he's good about shots you play and doesn't fail to not acknowledge a good shot, which that's all you can ask for really from a playing partner.
Q. But no small talk?
JUSTIN ROSE: Not really. There's plenty to think about out there.
Q. Do you feel the crowd played a big part; do you feel they were urging you on?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think so. As soon as I got my name on -- made a couple birdies they got into it more, and maybe it swung a little bit of support my way out there.
Q. What do you think of your playing partner? He seems like a character.
JUSTIN ROSE: I didn't really know him at all, but from watching American golf, he is very happy-go-lucky. He's an incredibly good player, too, good ball-striker, sound swing, and nice guy too.
Q. Tiger says you've got the game here to win. Is he right?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, that's very nice. I know I have got the game to win if all goes well. It's just a matter of -- I think a lot of guys -- well, a lot of guys have the game to win. It's a matter of producing it. To say I've obviously produced it today to a certain extent, that's very complimentary.
Q. Can you tell what happened to Tiger on the first tee with the photographer?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think somebody clicked while he was at address, about to set the club back and he backed off and that was it really. That's all I noticed.
Q. Did you see any signs of him getting frustrated; he couldn't get a putt to drop?
JUSTIN ROSE: Not really. I think he stayed pretty patient today. He kept hitting on the fat side of the hole. It looked like he definitely had a game plan out there and he stuck to it. (Inaudible) It's the same for everybody. It balances out over a year or over a week. You just have to keep playing.
Q. When you were going through your low point right after turning pro, could you even think about a day like today?
JUSTIN ROSE: I guess when I was going through my low point, it would have been a long road back to this point, definitely. It would have seemed like a mountain to climb. I did put in a lot of hard work and it was fantastic to be in this situation now, now having gone through a couple of tough periods.
Q. Do you feel like a professional out there, the youngest player in the tournament?
JUSTIN ROSE: I am one of the youngest. I feel a bit battle hardened, to be honest.
Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead
New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.
The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.
"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."
Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.
It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.
Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.
Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore
SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.
Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.
He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.
Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.
Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.
The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.
''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''
Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.
He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.
Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.
Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.
''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''
13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest
Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.
Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.
“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”
Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.
Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings.
McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi
It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.
Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.
Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.
“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”
Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.
“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.
This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.