MORE INTERVIEWS: Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard
Q. Justin, I went back to the record books, your best round ever here at Bay Hill in competition. This is in 31 rounds of competition. A beautiful round here. Your thoughts on how you're playing?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, obviously, any time you go low at Bay Hill, it's a bonus. I think starting out this morning, the first five, six, seven, eight holes felt a grind. I mean, it was cold, it was windy, and the rough was thick. So it was definitely a golf course today that you had to go out and play well. You couldn't fake the round.
You know, not everything was perfect today, I've got to say, but the putter was really, really hot. And those are fun day when's that happens.
Q. How about the conditions of the golf course itself? We had some rains on Wednesday that kind of softened things up a little bit. But I think this wind is drying it out in a hurry?
JUSTIN ROSE: it's soft, but you've still got to hit good golf shots to get rewarded. It's not just stopping where it lands. You've got to put the right spin on the ball and got to hit good shots to have the right trajectory to get the ball close.
So I think it's playing really well considering the rain, but you'll see it's not going to take much to get dry and firm again by Sunday.
Q. You mentioned putting. You were walking putts in and you knew they were going down. How hard have you worked at this and how good has this been?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, that's the error of my game since June last year. U.S. Open last year I dedicated myself at making a few changes and getting better at that part of my game. Yeah, today I've had some good days, no doubt. And today was probably the first real sort of hot day I've had with the blade in a long, long time.
We all know it's about consistency and that's what I'm still working towards. It's just fun to know that I obviously can do it, and I enjoy a lot of confidence from that.
Q. It was brisk this morning, to say the least, windy, and you go out and post a 65. How impressed are you with that number?
JUSTIN ROSE: I'm surprised by that number. Obviously, if you had said I would shoot a 65 on the range this morning, I would have probably said how many holes have I played? And that didn't change much. The first five, six holes out there were a grind. It was very difficult, very cold. But I guess I had that momentum swing in my favor. I eagled 16, birdied 17, and I felt that I really got going in my round, and had quite a good back nine also.
Q. You've played a lot with Tiger Woods, and you're at the level now where you're mentioned as guys who can contend and play well. You've played with Tiger. How much does that motivate you at all?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, I think when you play with Tiger, you're sharp mentally. I think in the first round of the tournament it just elevates the day a little bit, because he brings the crowd, he brings an atmosphere with him, and I think that helps in a sense. It helps get you in the zone. He's always been the perfect playing partner. He's very complimentary out there and we always have a good time. Pretty much anybody who plays with him says the same. Normally it's the stuff that goes on outside the ropes that makes it hard to play with Tiger.
Q. How was that round?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think it was a good round of golf. Kept myself out of trouble for the most part which is tough to do here at Bay Hill. There is trouble lurking all around this golf course. So I thought I sort of put together a clever round of golf and capitalized with the putter today. That's as good a putting round as I've had in a long, long time.
Q. What do you mean by clever?
JUSTIN ROSE: Good course management, smart thinking, hitting the appropriate shot at the right time in the round, and picking my chances when they came along.
Q. Does it make a difference for you sleeping in your own bed? You just live down the street.
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I think it does make a difference. I have played well in Orlando in the past. I've had decent showings here at Bay Hill in the past, and I always felt like I played quite well at Disney.
Yeah, listen, it brings its own distractions as well, so you've got to manage that. But nothing better than sleeping in your own bed.
Q. How do you explain the putting performance?
JUSTIN ROSE: It's hard work. I've been putting in a lot of hard work working with David Orr. And last night with Gio Valiante, my sports psych guy, just freeing it up. There's been a lot of technical stuff going in to get me to the point where today I can just go out and putt. Not every day they go in the middle like they did all day today, obviously. There are just days when you have it. But it's been nice to go out there and not have to tinker with the stroke too much and just be able to putt.
Q. What are you working on with David?
JUSTIN ROSE: A whole bunch of stuff. Basically learning my tendencies and getting the right putter in my hand that suits my stroke, and from there, it's been a lot of drills to putt it in.
Q. Does it feel like they're not any good when they're not going in?
JUSTIN ROSE: That is the thing. Some days you have to accept they aren't going in and know the difference between them going in and still putting well. That's when you have to be patient.
Q. Is there anything in the grip or the stroke or anything in there without getting too technical?
JUSTIN ROSE: No, I haven't changed anything for a few weeks now. I went back and tried a different putter the first couple weeks of the year at the Match Play and the Honda, and went back to my TM 200 for the last couple of rounds. Yeah, it's beginning to feel good. I mean, Doral, I missed quite a few short ones there. But, again, I know what my fix is. It's nice that you get the rewards straightaway for some hard work.
Q. You overhauled your putting last summer before the Ryder Cup. What did you do, and are you still working on the same stuff?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. I'm still, I would say, halfway to be feeling really, really comfortable with it. We actually set spring, so who knows, maybe a little closer than halfway is what we felt to be the time line. I mean, today is what we've been working towards, basically. Today is a good milestone. Just to be able to go out and putt, see putts, not feel like you're thinking about your stroke, your back swing, releasing the putter, all of those things can sometimes get in your head out there.
Q. Worked at Medinah, didn't it?
JUSTIN ROSE: I think somehow I just gutted them and somehow willed them in.
Q. Some guys dread playing with Tiger just because of the crowd stuff. You didn't seem to be bothered by it.
JUSTIN ROSE: No, I felt this is my hometown as well. I've got a good little support. I felt like the crowd was good to be me out there. Obviously, Tiger is the man here at Bay Hill. He's won seven times. But it's about what happens inside the ropes. He's always been a perfect gentleman to play with. I consider us friends. Our friendship has grown over the years, especially since he's been working with Sean Foley, so I enjoyed playing with him.
Q. Would it be fair to say you had a great putting round?
JUSTIN ROSE: I don't think my stats looked all that pretty today. I missed fairways by a foot here and there, but I didn't miss them in the wrong spot, which means you've got your game under control. It was more of a smart round, managing it really, really well. Hit some nice quality iron shots when I had to. So, yeah, I think I had it all. But it wasn't absolutely perfect which is also a nice way to think about your game. You have different skill sets to carry you through. One thing's not a hundred percent, then your putting steps up. If your putting's not there, you're hitting it great.
Q. Is this similar to your final round at Dubai (Indiscernible)?
JUSTIN ROSE: Oh, yeah. It's difficult to know. I think this is a tougher golf course. Dubai has really, really wide fairways. You give yourself a chance on every hole there. I think given the conditions today any time you shoot 60s in the final round, it has to override the first round. So I'll still give it to Dubai, but this is probably definitely a comparative round of golf here.