Aside from arguably being the best player at the moment on classic golf courses (with wins at Merion, Congressional, Muirfield Village, Doral, Cog Hill No. 4 and Aronimink), Justin Rose is arguably the best interview in golf today.
That, of course, is a subjective judgment and it takes into account candor, substance, thoughtfulness, likeability and tolerance for oddball and/or baiting questions that occasionally must be fielded like an in-between hop in baseball.
Rory McIlroy (attentive) and Phil Mickelson (impishly-entertaining), under the above criteria, are tied for second. Tiger Woods (robotic and repetitive) is among the worst. Among former players, Paul Azinger (unafraid) and Johnny Miller (no filter) are the best. Nick Faldo (boorish and condescending) is way down the list. Colin Montgomerie (impossibly managing to successfully blend petulance with self-deprecation) has always been the top Wednesday interview in golf and is now a breakthrough star on television. Lorena Ochoa was the most gracious. Dottie Pepper is still the best informed.
Here are a few Rose examples excerpted from his long-form post round presser after winning Sunday’s Quicken Loans National in Bethesda, Md:
“ … this trophy right here is one of the most special ones we play for all year. It’s such a great looking trophy, and I have the double act, two of those great trophies.”
(Notice he didn’t mention money. Or FedExCup points.)
“I kind of made a hash of it (the 72d hole) a little bit, poor tee shot down the left, and I took the smaller gap of the two that I had available and I felt pretty comfortable that I would not hit the tree, but I put too much draw spin on the ball and once it got going left with the slope, it had no chance of staying dry … nearly tripped over the wire, nearly made a real fool of myself. But as I chased after the ball, I realized it was hooking pretty good and had no chance of staying up.”
More Rose on the 18th at Congressional: “That makes Ernie Els’ 5-iron in there in the U.S. Open (1997) one of the great shots of all time, that sweeping draw that he hit in there. It’s one of the most intimidating looking shots in golf, and it’s one us of the best second shots in golf with the Congressional clubhouse sitting at the top of the hill, beautiful backdrop, too. … It’s a really well-designed golf hole.”
On the venues he has conquered: “But yeah, I have won on some nice golf courses and I feel very privileged for that. Who knows, maybe I just talk myself into that now, and when I get to these type of courses it becomes an advantage for me. Maybe I should start talking up the other ones, too.”
Then there was this question that called for analysis. Rose hit it out of the park:
Q. Which felt more like a U.S. Open to you, this or Pinehurst?
Rose: “Interesting. I would say from my preconceived ideas, this looks visually like a U.S. Open to me, the green-looking rough, the tight-looking fairways. For me, holes like 15 here at Congressional, that to me just looks like a U.S. Open-style hope, just down and up and straight. It’s just framed really, really nicely. So I think Pinehurst was out of the norm, away from the norm a little bit and it was great. It played like a U.S. Open obviously, if you look what finished second, it was still a tough test. But it was a very different test. For me, U.S. Opens are more this style, more these style golf. That’s how I’ve always sort of always visualized them.”
Rose on why he missed the 2006 Open Championship at Hoylake, which will host this year’s British in three weeks:
“Missed it because I wasn’t very good. I was having a bit of a rough spell around 2005, 2006, missing majors. I was first alternate a couple of times. I was first alternate in 2005 for the Open and PGA, and again I missed the Open Championship in 2006. That was sort of a remotivating period of time in my life when I was sort of out on the sidelines missing these majors. I just remember it being burnt out, really warm, people eating ice cream and Tiger winning. That’s about my memory. I guess I’ve got some work to do.”
That’s just a small sampling. If you want more, go to asapsports.com and read the transcript from Rose’s news conference after winning the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion.
If you still aren’t convinced that Rose is the best interview in golf, you just weren’t paying attention.