Featured Golf News
Rose Enjoys 'Great' Week
Although he bogeyed the difficult par-4 closing hole at the TPC Blue Monster course, Justin Rose managed to get past third-round leader Bubba Watson and win the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami by a stroke with a closing 2-under 70.
Watson could have extended the tournament with a three on the last, and he set himself up perfectly for that opportunity but missed a 10-foot putt for the tying birdie and shot a 74 on Sunday.
Rose ended up at 16-under 272, earning $1.4 million and an important 550 FedEx Cup points. After accepting the Gene Sarazen Trophy, the 31-year-old Rose sat down with reporters and discussed the final round and the entire week. Here's what he had to say.
MODERATOR: Well, Justin, congratulations on a fantastic victory, must be the biggest of your career, must be a very proud day for you.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it really is a great day. It's been a great week. It's been a great two weeks to be honest with you. I've been very focused on just sort of seeing this whole Florida Swing as like a body of work and not really trying to put too much focus on any individual tournament. And I kind of knew I was playing well and if I just kept out of my own way for the most part and kept thinking well and doing the right things, I had a feeling something good might happen in these four weeks; and I'm kind of including the next two weeks, as well. For this little beauty to show up on my mantle piece so early in the season, definitely a fantastic feeling, and you know, it sets up a very exciting year.
MODERATOR: Was your heart in your mouth a little bit when you saw your chip sort of going towards the water on 18?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I mean, it certainly was. I knew it wasn't going to go down into the water. There was just enough rough but I didn't want to have to chip the ball coming back. I was trying to make 5 pretty much the whole day down the whole, but it's kind of funny, when you try to make 5 how difficult that seems sometimes. 6 seems to come into play way too much. I was driving the ball really well all day. I felt very comfortable on the tee shot. Felt like I could get the ball in play. Peter Hanson pulled it left, and when it went left off the clubface, I chose not to even follow his ball with my eyes because I didn't want to entertain anything left.
When I kind of heard that his ball obviously cleared, it may have made me realize - well, should have made me realize it was playing a lot shorter than it was. Tried to keep it up the right half of the fairway, obviously very easy to miss it in the right rough, and from there, I kind of had to really make a decision. I kind of put myself in the worst spot. I could have chipped it out but they had a palm tree exactly where the easy lay up would have been so I had to still fit a lay up into a difficult area, and I had a clear shot at the pin. I figured if I can just get it up, hit it at the pin and just cut it right, I was pretty comfortable from the bunkers or from over the back of the green that I could make four, stroke five. When I dropped the ball, obviously it disappears into the bottom of the Bermuda and I have to dig it out a little bit, but the rest was history. It was good enough.
MODERATOR: When you were sitting in the scoring hut, probably thought you had won, you hear a big roar. What were you thinking?
JUSTIN ROSE: I kind of celebrated like I had won it because I heard the crowd and the people from the grandstands shouting, Bubba has hit in the water on 18 and so I'm like, okay, all good. From that perspective, when I tapped in, I figured it was to win. Then I hear he wasn't in the water when I got to the scorer's hut and he hits it to nine feet and I'm kind of thinking, that was all a bit premature. He hit a marvelous shot into 18. That's the kind of thing Bubba does. He can look out of position on a hole and just go ahead and hit sort of a miles an hour shot.
Even though I had only ten minutes I decided to go down to the range just to keep loose and keep swinging the driver, because obviously that was going to be the critical club in the playoff 10, and 1, to hit the fairways, if you were going to go on and win in the playoff. I just decided to assume he was going to make the putt, keep loose, and obviously when I did not hear a huge cheer go up, it's a weird way to win a golf tournament when you're waiting on somebody else to make a mistake, but obviously you just have to celebrate the fact that you did what was good enough.
MODERATOR: And this must give you great confidence going into the Masters.
JUSTIN ROSE: No doubt about it, if you look at the tournaments I've won, Jack's tournament, Tiger's tournament, a playoff event over here and now a World Golf Championships, the progression is really, really nice. The only thing that really is the next level up is a major. But not to say that I'm at that stage in my career where I'm only focusing on the majors; I think there's a lot more for me to do in the game than to get to that point. But no doubt, I feel my game is getting ready for that. But you know, you've got to not maybe put too much emphasis on the majors. I just have to keep preparing well and keep doing what I'm doing at the moment and hopefully you just put yourself in the right situation at the right time.
Q. Did you expect the score - inaudible.
JUSTIN ROSE: No, I don't think so. I said yesterday, if Bubba shot 70 or 69, it gave everyone the opportunity to go low and catch him. That was kind of the way I felt. It was the way Friday and Saturday - the way the course has played Friday, Saturday, that's the way I saw the day playing out. Obviously the heavy wind that we had today, and I don't know if it was the Sunday pin placements; but it's that extra shot and a half harder, and who knows, obviously anybody playing up and around the lead when the pins are tight and wind is are blowing, probably playing two or three shots harder just due to the situation. No, turned out to be sort of a battle rather than a birdie fest, as it had been the first few days.
Q. When you see that Rory gets within one of the lead, Tiger is at the bottom of the leaderboard with a WD next to his name -
JUSTIN ROSE: Was he.
Q. Would you say that nothing went accord to plan today except for that trophy sitting there?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yes, all of that's news to me by the way. (Laughter) thank you.
Q. That's what we are in the business for.
JUSTIN ROSE: Cool. Didn't know Rory got within one of the lead. Glad I didn't know that. And didn't know Tiger WD'd. Why did he -
JUSTIN ROSE: Oh, really? That's not good news. Hopefully holding himself back for the Masters and doesn't want to do anymore damage. Yeah, but Rory, it's the first thing I said, I think I asked - we were talking about Rory or Lee and the guys, maybe after Friday's round, but the cream always rises to the top and he got off to a slow start this week, I think shooting 1 over. But just shows you that the really good players, they wait for their run. They never panic. They know they are going to get hot at some point during a tournament and they are always sharp at the end.
So just more testament to how good he is. But yeah, also to my point, I wasn't really worried about what everybody else was doing. I said on the range this morning that it was going to take a great round; obviously 70 is a great round in relative terms now. But it was all about controlling what I could control. I kind of knew I got into the lead; it's hard to ignore it out there. But I knew I got into the lead around 14 when I made that birdie, and from there I knew it was just a matter of closing it out.
Q. You were in it for much of last week, as well, and I'm wondering just what is the difference between last week and this week? What are the things that you're able to do a little differently or so forth that make a difference?
JUSTIN ROSE: I'm going to say it's the randomness of golf, really. I felt comfortable last week on the weekend. I felt calm. I felt ready to play well on the weekend. Then this week, I did. Maybe it was just a fact of, you know, you de sensitize a little bit to the pressure, to the cameras, to the crowd and you get more comfortable. And I think that's why guys like Tiger and Phil are so good down the stretch and under pressure, because they have done it so often. I think it's all about just getting comfortable. I felt very comfortable today. I was even kind of checking myself, even on 18 tee, I was like, there was very little nerves. I'm like, this is not normal really, based upon the past. I guess it's a good sign of getting more comfortable out there.
Q. Are you actually trying to be more relaxed down the stretch than you used to be?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of tricks and stuff going in. It's very easy to say, I'm going to be relaxed today. But there's certain - you've got to know your tendencies out there. I definitely work on my pace and my rhythm from my golf swing to the way I walk to the way I do everything. So I think that's really what changes in most players on the weekend; they tend to get a little quicker.
Q. Four wins in the last 20 months; not sure anybody can match that. What do you attribute that to?
JUSTIN ROSE: Getting old. 31 now. I don't know, just kind of having learned the hard way a little bit. I've certainly had my chances in the past, as well. It's kind of nice to get a little bit of momentum and confidence going. I think it's probably a confidence thing. When I do get into contention now, I believe I can go ahead and close it out. Obviously I've worked hard with - I've got a great team around me. I've got a grade caddie. Fulch has been with me for 3½ years and really trust him down the stretch. I think he gets better down the stretch, and I get better down the stretch, and our relationship is fantastic and it's a very important one.
Obviously Sean Foley, my golf swing, I know how to make a swing to eliminate a certain side of the golf course. For example, 18, I just knew I couldn't hit it left. Even though it's not the prettiest of shots; having that ability, and then I work with Gio Valiante, to your point back there, just trying to keep the right thoughts going through your mind on Sunday. So it's been an evolution, but you know, I can't answer it better than that really. It's a team of people that have all worked hard to help me.
Q. Some pretty stout tracks you've won on, too.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I definitely take pride on the courses I've won on. Even if I look back on my European Tour career, Valderrama and Huntingdale, courses like that. I looked at my schedule this year and I wanted to play a schedule that favored me by playing the tougher golf courses.
Q. You spoke about a lot of emphasis being put on the majors and maybe trying to dampen that down a little bit. Are you deliberately trying to dampen down your excitement about the Masters, and how do you think that tournament sets up at the moment with so many players playing well?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, based upon what we talked about yesterday briefly with our mate, Rory. There's going to be a lot of expectation on him and a lot of expectation on Tiger, as there always is. I'm probably, now having had the start to the season that I've had, I'm probably in the mix of players to talk about and I'll have to field questions on it I'm sure. But it's all part of being a pro. It's all part of having to - it's part of the job. And I feel pretty comfortable with that. I don't think it changes the way I'm going to approach anything. It's not going to change my expectation levels. I just think if you have the ability just to shut it out really and be able to answer a question honestly, but not really think about it on your own time, that's the key.
Q. What club did you hit on 14?
JUSTIN ROSE: I hit a 52 degree, yeah, which actually is kind of worth noting. I've changed the setup of my bag this year, driver, 3 wood and a rescue 3 iron, which has opened up the bottom end of the bag, where I've added an extra wedge. I feel like my short game has been very sharp this year. Like that scenario right there was perfect, 52-degree downwind and that's a shot I could not have played with the softer wedges I had last year.
Q. How much time do you spend in the States now, and are you feeling more like an American than an Englishman or a South African?
JUSTIN ROSE: You know, if I look at my career, I think my career is definitely suiting living in America right now and for the most part, this is home. I really enjoy going back to England. But actually I sold my apartment there last summer so I don't really have a base back in the U.K. at all. It just got to the point where this is easier on the family to be here. I foresee the kids going to school here in the foreseeable future. You kind of have to make the decision of what's going to be easier for your lifestyle and for your family especially. I don't think you ever lose where you're from.
Having represented England, I'm proud to sit here with the English flag there, and The Ryder Cup instills great patriotism in all the players. You know who you're playing for and why you're doing it. I really do enjoy America from a lifestyle perspective and the Tour out here. I'm a player who balances trying to play both tours, and winning a tournament like this actually is the perfect way to compete on both tours, because it's such a great crossover now. I have the chance to compete and have a run at The Race to Dubai now and obviously it gets you really going well in the FedEx Cup. So it's an exciting win.
Q. Also wanted to ask you about the birdie on 4, that; and were you surprised to have caught Bubba so quickly, to have essentially caught up after four holes?
JUSTIN ROSE: I didn't know what Bubba was scoring. I knew he was hitting it a little left and right. When I glanced back down the fairway, I kind of saw where he was hitting it. It looked like he was hitting a few different clubs off the tee than he did when I played with him for three days. But yeah, that putt at 4, that's like a bonus birdie really. It's kind of a hole that you just try to hit a good shot, get in the middle of the green, take your 3 and move on. Obviously to roll in a good putt is good for the confidence early in the round and obviously that was nice. Obviously 1 is kind of a give birdie. I missed about a ten foot eagle putt there. But then to birdie 4, I felt like it got the round really going and it got me feeling like I was off to a good start.
Q. What club did you hit?
JUSTIN ROSE: I hit 6 iron.
Q. In recent weeks, it seemed that no lead out here is safe. We have seen guys come back from six to eight shots four times this year, and then today, a guy had a three shot lead and then Keegan was up by two. Can you address the specter of Sunday pressure and all those swings that we have seen in this calendar year?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, it certainly has been a crazy year from that perspective. Maybe I was in the perfect spot starting the day. I don't really - I don't know why that's happening. I don't think - maybe there's just, the talent is so deep out here that the guys are good enough to get themselves into contention. But there's definitely something about learning how to win. And, I don't know, maybe there's a lot of players who are good enough to win but just have not quite learned it yet. That's what we are seeing. And I think that will obviously change. But that would be my way of answering that question to be honest. But obviously I think it's exciting times for the PGA Tour and to have a lot of youngsters out there vying and having chances to win obviously is good. It's exciting TV to see swings and changes like that on the leaderboard but as long as you're on the right side of it, yeah.
Q. You announced yourself to the golf world at a very young age; can you remember when you first became aware of Rory?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think it was really the 2007 Open at Carnoustie was when I really became aware of him. He was a great amateur and did really well there. I think great first round there and really got his name on the leaderboard and ended up I forget exactly where, but had a really strong showing. Obviously when you see a kid's name pop up on a leaderboard, you really take note. And then when you see him swing it and hit it, a little different; he's not on the leaderboard through smoke and mirrors. He's on the leaderboard because he's a great player.
Q. Not wishing to belabor the point about the majors but you've won in Europe and you've won here several times and now a World Golf Championships, is the obvious next step being a major?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think the trend is that way for sure. I think, you know, I could become a more prolific winner before I completely focus on the majors 100% as my only goal, but no doubt, I think - I believe I'm a good enough player now and I've learned enough along the way that I have a realistic shot every time I tee it up in a major. So that's a good place to be. I feel like I'm actually in probably a perfect spot. The expectations are not too high but I feel my ability is good enough to get the job done.
MODERATOR: Congratulations again Justin.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.