#UBSHKOpen preview What They Said

Wed 07 Dec 2016

#UBSHKOpen preview What They Said

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Justin Rose (Eng)
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Can you give us an update on your injury?
JUSTIN ROSE: It was disappointing last week to be honest with you. I spent the last six or seven weeks at home, really getting fit and strong and working on my game with the intention of starting a new season on the front foot.
It was one of those unfortunate, let's call it, life injuries, where you move the wrong way. You know, you've got to pick something up awkwardly and just flared up, sort of like muscle spasm or something in my back. I think given maybe the season, some of the disc issues I had in May, the back has tightened up pretty hard because of that.
But done everything I can the last few days to do everything I can to defend here. Disappointed to pull out of the Hero, especially being my home course. I worked very hard leading up to it, but then obviously worked very hard just to get to the tee there on Thursday but felt like I was unable to continue; and to continue would certainly jeopardise this tournament, as well. Making good progress. The journey over here seemed to go well and looking forward to tomorrow.
Justin Rose of England Justin Rose of England
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Quick memories of last year and what it meant to win.
JUSTIN ROSE: Obviously great memories of this tournament last year. This is really one of my favourite tournaments on The European Tour. It's certainly one of my favourite cities to visit. It's a course I haven't played particularly well until last year which gave me extra satisfaction of being able to win it. I had a great tussle with Lucas Bjerregaard really the whole of Sunday, and we separated ourselves from the field, which is a fun match play sort of environment for us.
The 18th hole here at Fanling is such a great little golf hole and to be able to win on it, the tournament's really nicely setup there on the last hole. It just felt like a really, really fun tournament to win, and it was a bit of a -- I think having missed the cut my previous try around here, it was like a nice bit of revenge on this week. Fooch and I worked really hard with our game plan and I think this is a course that does take some learning and we did a good job of that last year.
Q. Just some news breaking last night that Thomas is going to be Ryder Cup Captain. Your initial reaction and thoughts?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, I wasn't surprised that Thomas got it. I think that Thomas has always been at the epicenter really of everything that goes on on The European Tour. He's been on the board of the players' committee for a long time, and decision making and policy on Tour, he's always kind of front and center of.
So I think it will be a role that suits him. He's obviously very current in terms of his game. He's going to be on Tour a lot. He's going to have a very hands-on approach with the players. He's been involved obviously in the last few Ryder Cups as a vice captain and I think you probably learn more about being a captain as a vice captain then you do playing, there's a lot more backroom chat that goes on that the players don't concern himself with. I'm sure he's picked up a lot of tips along the way, and he'll certainly be a very qualified captain.
Q. Is it hard to snap back into competitive mode?
JUSTIN ROSE: I've been working hard to be honest with you for seven weeks. I've been really excited about what I've seen in my game in practice. It certainly hasn't been seven weeks R&R. It's been seven weeks at home, seven weeks dropping the kids at school, seven weeks parenting, which is pretty difficult.
But the point is, yeah, last week was a mishap for sure but I feel good about things in general. I feel optimistic about next engineer. Certainly I feel motivated and I feel hungry.
In terms of this week, sure, it's not ideal to come in here slightly undercooked preparation-wise but I'm hoping that the fact that I've been diligent and careful the last few days is going to allow me to be competitive for all four days.
You know, you never really forget how to compete. So once Thursday starts, hopefully the system gets up and running. This is a golf course I've played enough now to be able to see it blind this week, so to speak. I know my game plan and I know my strategy. I have good memories on which to draw. Right now, that's as positive as I can be, but I'm looking forward to the week.
Q. I'd just like to return to The Ryder Cup. The next contest will be in Paris. I gather Tony Jacklin has raised some concerns about the qualification and whether the European captain is able to pick the 12 best players, because people like Paul Casey were not eligible because they were not a Member of The European Tour. Is that a problem, do you think?
JUSTIN ROSE: It hasn't been a problem -- certainly not a problem because if you look at the record, obviously the last 20 years, we've done incredibly well. I think this last Ryder Cup around, it was kind of a slight changing of the guard. We had six rookies.
The American Team didn't have -- maybe had one rookie. It was just timing; and they were an incredibly hungry team, and I think we were up against it this year. We were just maybe up against a better team this year.
In terms of crowd support, I don't think that the Americans will receive the same type of -- the support that we get is incredibly positive. But I don't think that it -- how do I put it, it will be easier for them probably in France than maybe it was for us in Hazeltine, I don't know. We shall see.
But in terms of -- I'm only really going off Gleneagles, because that's the only really home Ryder Cup I've played. I've played three away and I've played one at home and I actually really enjoyed playing them away, because the environment of trying to keep a crowd quiet is a lot of fun.
But I think that Team USA and everybody that goes with it and the crowd, they really, really, really wanted this one, and it was definitely an amped up crowd. I think it was just their time, time to win one to be honest with you. We did everything we could. I think the team did a good job of even being remotely competitive on Sunday, because after losing their first session 4-0, we were really up against it. And just to have half a chance going into Sunday, I thought was a pretty monumental effort for our team, and we fought as hard as we could.
But I just think this team around, they were a team that were pretty tough to beat. I think in France, the shoe is now on our foot in terms of, I think we're the hungry ones now. Certainly I'm speaking for myself. I certainly want to get back to winning ways in Paris.
I think all the rookies that we were able to blood this year around are going to find it a much more pleasant and enjoyable experience playing at home, and they are going to have the experience of what The Ryder Cup is all about. I think we are going to reap the rewards of what happened with The Ryder Cup this year, next year, in two years, in 2018.
Q. Did you at any point think to pull out of the tournament, and what part of your game gets affected most by your back injury?
JUSTIN ROSE: Sure, I've been worried about my participation the last few days. That's why I've been doing everything in my power to be ready to be fit to be here. Making the trip was 50/50 at one point last week. But obviously I wanted to be here as best I could, and I'm trying to get to the first tee tomorrow in as best condition as I can be.
All aspects of your game get affected, because obviously it's a preparation thing. I haven't been able to put as much time in on any part of my game as I would have. You'd have to probably say driving, where there's the most amount of speed that's involved.
But this is where this is a good golf course for me from that point of view, because there's a lot of irons that could be played off the tee, and being a shorter golf course, length is not a premium as it is on some other courses. I'm hoping that will work in my favour.
Scott Hend (Aus)
Q. What's it like being back at Fanling where you've enjoyed such wonderful success in the past?
SCOTT HEND: It's an awesome golf club, great atmosphere. It's always a good place to come to. Sit over on the veranda there, have a few brews after you finish, a bit of food and enjoy the company of the great members.
Q. As somebody who has done it, what does it take to win around here?
Scott Hend of Australia Scott Hend of Australia
SCOTT HEND: Patience and a little bit of luck. This golf course presents it self quite tricky at times, and you do have to get a couple of fortunate bounces to make sure you sort of hang in there.
Q. We wouldn't necessarily associate you and your skills with this golf club, but you've got a knack of playing it, haven't you.
SCOTT HEND: Well, I'd like to think that I'm more about than just driving a golf ball. So it takes a little bit of imagination, shot-making, and obviously a pretty sort of sharp short game to get it around this golf course.
Q. How do you feel about your game at the moment?
SCOTT HEND: I'm getting there. Obviously it's the last event of the year. I'm quite tired. I'm really looking forward to the break and getting into the gym and trying to get strong again. My strength has sort of disappeared over the last few weeks. It's there or thereabouts. Hopefully I can muster up some game this week.
Q. How much is your mind on The Asian Tour Order of Merit, which you've dominated at the present, but a good mate, Marcus Fraser, is breathing down your neck.
SCOTT HEND: Yeah, it's still open between the two of us. He obviously has the ability to win the tournament this week, as a hundred other guys. But it's something that I would really like to achieve. I could have wrapped it up a while ago, but I didn't.
So I've got a job to do is this week and I'm focused on the job I have to do.
Q. You say could you have wrapped it up; does that mean it's been playing on your mind a little bit?
SCOTT HEND: Not really. Just the way things have panned out. Obviously if you want to pick things apart, go back, I par the last hole at the CIMB the other week, I'm done, dusted, job done. If I won the playoff at Crans Montana; done, dusted. It's just these little things.
Every little shot over the year adds up to dollars and the dollars add up to where you are on the Order of Merit. That's the way it is right now. We're battling it out this week and may the best man have a crack at it and win. Obviously I have the handicapped advantage. We'll see how it goes.
Q. How much will it play across your mind over the course of the week, because usually you would say, you would just try to push it to one side and get on with the job.
SCOTT HEND: Look, the Order of Merit prize is the culmination of the year. The Hong Kong Open is a tournament I'd like to win for a second time. Right now first and foremost on my mind is winning this tournament and becoming a second-time champion.
Like I said, I've got goals I need to achieve. I win this tournament, I'm possibly in the world's Top-50 and get a start in the US Masters next year. If I win the Order of Merit because of that, perfect. Right now, I want to focus on trying to win this tournament and playing the best I can, and then the rest of the accolades come afterwards.
Q. We've mentioned that Marcus is a friend. How has the banter been?
SCOTT HEND: Oh, we're Australian. We're always giving it to each other. We played together last week at the Australian PGA for the first two rounds. He struggled a little bit with his game. I'm sure he did some hard work during the weekend to be ready for this week and this is the sort of golf course that sets up well for Marcus. And I'm sure the sort of guy he is, with the way he is mentally, he'll rise to the occasion and play good golf.
Q. Just talk about the year in general, obviously another great year, two wins, probably your career year.
SCOTT HEND: It's been a great year. Obviously a couple years ago, I won three times in a year, but this year, I've had a few more Top-10s mixed in with the wins. On a scale of 1 to 10, probably I'd rate it around an 8. It would have been nice to win more. I've been in position to win, and that's what we are all about obviously.
We play as professionals to try to get in position to win. And playing solid against European fields solid in Europe, their home ground, has been what's more satisfying to me is I've actually been able to grind out a couple of Top-10s and top fives and had opportunities to win in Europe.
I'd probably rate it a ten if I had won on European soil, but as yet, I haven't done that yet. That's still to come.
Q. It's nearly been ten years now since you quit the PGA TOUR and took a chance, qualifying school, coming in second in Pakistan. Do you ever look at your ten years in Asia and what it's done for you?
SCOTT HEND: Asia has been a great pathway for me to get to somewhere else where I want to go. You can't always be where you want to be and sometimes you've just got to take what you can. It was a great place for me to be at a time where I had nothing and I came to Q-School and finished runner-up to Ben Leong in Q-School. And from then on, went to Pakistan, finished second to all of a sudden hit greater heights and climb my way up to Top 60 in the world. Hopefully here, let's go on with it.
Thongchai Jaidee (Tha)
Q. Just your thoughts, playing in the Hong Kong Open this week, how do you feel?
THONGCHAI JAIDEE: I feel great. Even last week, we spent a lot of time with my own tournament last week, very fun last week. A lot of feedback is very good. We had a really good condition on the golf course. We had a lot of challenge. The conditions is quite tough last week.
This week, my feeling, getting tired last week, but become this week, hopefully we catch up a little bit. We like the course. I played the Pro-Am this morning. The course is like very good. The green is good, roll very fast. I mean, you know, I've been here many years. The course, nothing change, everything, you have to find the fairway and put the ball in play.
Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand
Q. Last week you didn't play any golf. Must be nice to come back here and challenge for the trophy, isn't it?
THONGCHAI JAIDEE: Of course, we tried to get my best this week. Even I have to catch up Top-50 in the World Ranking to be in the Masters next year. That's a target to be top five, Top-10. We've got to be ready to be off. I don't mind playing well. I think the people in front me, I try to get the win is great for me.
Q. How is your game feeling?
THONGCHAI JAIDEE: Still a little bit struggling with putting. Getting better and we feel better now because we have so many rounds of golf. We have 12 weeks, only five days off, and then last week we have my own tournament. This week, maybe going to make me more like confident. I like to play this course anyway.
Q. Coming here, you've enjoyed some good results. Give you some good confidence for the week?
THONGCHAI JAIDEE: Yeah, we have a good thing about tee to fairway. You have to keep the ball in play. That's why you can't miss any fairways. If you miss it, going to be tough to play. But this golf course, anyone open. Not even who are long hitters, but this golf course, you have to keep the ball in play. You can have like wedge play and then putting challenge.
Q. This is probably your last event for the year. How has the year been for you so far?
THONGCHAI JAIDEE: I'm really happy. My year, if the World Ranking, it drop down, I don't mind. Really difficult to keep my World Ranking and stay on. But I won every year. I've enjoyed that this year, another very, very good year. We have win one big event, and otherwise, not many Top-10s, but still make me a chance like enjoy the tournaments.
Marcus Fraser (Aus)
Q. You've had some good success here in the past.
MARCUS FRASER: Absolutely. Love this golf course. Probably my top three, definitely top three favorite tournaments of the year. Yeah, I think had it been any other week, I would have shut it down for the year. I love this golf course and love this tournament.
Q. What is it about the golf course that you like so much?
MARCUS FRASER: Just like an old golf course, tree-lined and small greens, and there's no just bombing away and just hitting it. You've got to think your way around the golf course, and I really enjoy it. It's one of the few golf courses of the year that I really enjoy playing, and there's probably only a handful that I really, really enjoy. It's probably one of the first ones that I make part of my schedule.
Marcus Fraser of Australia Marcus Fraser of Australia
Q. You played the Pro-Am this morning. How did you find the golf course compared to previous years?
MARCUS FRASER: I think it's probably in the best shape I think I've seen it. I think they closed the course last week, and the greens, anything downgrain and downhill is lightning quick. The greens are really good. Hopefully they don't kick up too much with the grain, but yeah, I can't fault the golf course. It's in great nick.
Q. Final event of the year. How would you sum up 2016 so far? You've had one win, one second place finish and tied fifth in the Olympics, as well.
MARCUS FRASER: Yeah and I think I was eighth in Indonesia, as well. There's been some good weeks there. There's been some awful weeks. Majority of the weeks have been pretty average, so it's been a frustrating year, so the good thing is that there is some good there. So there's plenty to work on in the break. Going to take a couple of months off and charge the batteries up.
Q. You won in Malaysia, and the track is similar to this one, as well?
MARCUS FRASER: Yeah, absolutely. They are the golf courses I like to play. I don't like to play the big golf courses. That's why I made this tournament, it's always part of my schedule, and had it been any other week, I wouldn't be playing this week. It's always nice to come back here.
Q. Got to ask you about the Order of Merit race, the final event of the year, and you need a win to actually just sort of push Scott Hend. But this is a good event for you to try and do that, isn't it?
MARCUS FRASER: It is a good event for me but at the same time, it's like giving Usain Bolt a head start in a 90-metre race; it's highly unlikely. It's not one of my priorities. My priority is playing well this week. It's a golf course I love playing, and Hendy has played well all year and deserves to win, and in my eyes, I think it's all done and dusted.
Liang Wen-chong (Chn)
Q. Just talk a little, some good memories, what do you remember most of that hole-in-one?
LIANG WEN-CHONG: The hole, the ball get in the hole. I see the ball, yeah. That's a good memory.
Q. And what did you do with the gold ball?
LIANG WEN-CHONG: I keep it. It's good stuff for my golf life. Because 2007, I win the Order of Merit and Singapore, Masters. That's very good stuff for me in that time, and now, ten years.
Q. What does it mean for you to be playing the Hong Kong Open every year, a home event?
LIANG WEN-CHONG: Because this course is many memory. It's good memory. When I'm amateur, I start playing Hong Kong Open, and until now, about 20 years. When I'm amateur, I still already play the Hong Kong Open. Many good friends in Hong Kong, and also my wife is Hong Kong. My kids, Hong Kong ID. So like my second home.
Q. So obviously you know the golf course very well?
LIANG WEN-CHONG: Yeah. Very challenging. Looks easy.
Q. Does it give you an advantage?
LIANG WEN-CHONG: I think more important, the feeling in the golf course, because narrow fairway, small green. Yeah, it's I think very consistent. Because more top players here, and it's the last Asian Tour event, yeah, in Asia.
Q. When you look back to 2016, have you been happy with how you've performed, how you've played this year?
LIANG WEN-CHONG: Yeah, very happy, because golf always up and down, but before I always try my best, yeah, what I want to do. That's my choice. So I'm happy that in the future, I think also is target, also is professional tour. Also target is win the tournament and do some golf charity in China.
Q. Of course this week when you play, you'll try to win the tournament?
LIANG WEN-CHONG: Always thinking but step by step. First day, feeling so-so.
Q. What do you mean?
LIANG WEN-CHONG: A little bit change swing, and still -- I have to make that good plan for the next few years, so something in my mind.
Q. Why do you try to change the swing, to be better the next five or ten years of your career? Is that the reason why you changed your swing?
LIANG WEN-CHONG: Because I want better, yeah. So have to change something, yeah, because this age, first is swing and second is the birdie. You have to get more energy, because getting old now. I want to see like Thongchai Jaidee, so tough, he's idol, really, how to make my golf life longer. How to find the secret. Yeah, I want to get the way.
Q. You must have been happy that China finished second in the World Cup the last two weeks.
LIANG WEN-CHONG: Yeah, of course.
Q. What does that tell you about golf in China? Zhang Lianwei, you, started coming up in China, and the young players started coming out. Does it make you satisfied and happy that the young players are coming out?
LIANG WEN-CHONG: Yeah, of course, because golf is very young when I start golf in China. There's not many young players, and the Tour is small, but until now, we are getting better and more young players.
So more players in the international tournaments, they get the trophy, that's good for China golf, because we want more and more champions in the tour. To Li Haotong, he's good. I know him growing from a little kid. He just turned pro, and step by step now, World Cup, second, that's very good for China golf. Also for me, it's many good players coming up.
Q. Going back to what you say about trying to change to play like older like Thongchai, have you spoken to Thongchai, as well, about what he does to make him become like what he is now? Have you talked to Thongchai before about what he does?
LIANG WEN-CHONG: I always try to observe Thongchai and how consistent he is and how like Thongchai is so into golf. Yeah, that's what I think that Thongchai, he's so strong. That's the reason I think, is he's so into golf.
Danny Willett of England Danny Willett of England
Danny Willett (Eng)
Q. Have you drawn a line under 2016, starting the 2017 season here in Hong Kong?
DANNY WILLETT: Yes and no. Obviously still technically 2016 is the year but it's the first event that I'm going to play in the 2017 season. So yeah, obviously the year is done and you can't change anything about it. Try and start the season fresh.
Q. Mentally are you able to do that? Are you able to reflect as you did and put it all to bed and start again?
DANNY WILLETT: Probably not quite just yet. Still haven't looked properly over what kind of happened the last few months and how that kind of finished. But you know, kind of really trying to use this week as a separate entity.
Like you say, it is the 2017 season. We are starting it fresh. Obviously the guys have already got one tournament up on us last week. This is our way of starting the 2017 season, coming out to a golf course that I've played I think five years ago. You know, looking forward to a really fun week out here.
Q. This is a lovely place to start the 2017 season?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, it is. We've been to Hong Kong a couple of times me and my wife, it's a great city. Loads to do and things to see and obviously different cultures all in one mixing pot and loads of expats out here. The golf course used to be twinned with my golf course back home; I don't think it still is.
Every time we've come here, we've had an amazing time. When the guys from UBS asked us to come back and play, it was a no-brainer.
Q. It's kind of nice that twin --
DANNY WILLETT: I don't know if it still is. When I was last here it was still on the boards. I haven't seen it yet but it is quite nice. I know that there's a few golf courses that do it around the world, so, yeah, it's funny that Lindrick and Fanling are attached.
Q. I appreciate this is still work but is it nice it do it in this relaxed environment, if you like?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, it is. It's nice to get to this stage where you can pick and choose events. Trying to get back to that, what we did so well over the last two years is play golf tournaments we want to play. Funnily enough, when you play somewhere you want to play, you often play a bit better. This has definitely been on that list for awhile.
Q. What does it take to that play that bit better at Fanling?
DANNY WILLETT: We played a few holes today. It's in really good shape. You've got to putt your ball in the fairway to be able to spin it into the greens. It's slightly firmer and getting a little bit quick and they will probably get quicker over the week.
It's just a good, solid golf course. You look at the winners that you've had around here over the last ten years, and you know, it's some stellar names and great players that have won around this golf course. I think that just goes to show how strong the course is. You've got to play some good golf and put your ball in the fairway, and obviously roll in a few putts. If you do that come the end of the week, you're going to have a good chance.
Ian Poulter (Eng)
Q. How are you and has this Hong Kong Open come at a good time in your rehabilitation?
IAN POULTER: I think it's come at a good time this year. It was a little late in the calendar last year, leaving on a Tuesday morning to try and come over. I'm in good form. I'm rested. I feel my game now kind of six events in, feels pretty good.
So it's good to come to a golf course where I've had quite a bit of success. Quite a few rounds in the 60s on this course and obviously holding that trophy in 2010. So I'm looking forward to the challenge this week.
Q. Imagine there was a lot of rust in the system after so many months sidelined, but has the game been progressing very neatly?
IAN POULTER: Well, I come out of the gates a little too quick I think, leading after day one of having 5 1/2 months off was not really what I was expecting. So expectations change pretty quickly.
But I feel my game is there. I just need to hole a few more putts. You know, certainly coming to a golf course like this, where you've seen lots of putts going in, hopefully I can do the same this week and obviously put myself in contention.
Q. Does that familiarity, that experience around Fanling help?
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I think it does. I think a lot of guys play well on certain courses. This is one of those venues for me where I like the visuals from the tee. I like that it's positional play. You know, I've got some good, fond memories.
Q. Are you still as ambitious as ever? Are you still as confident as ever, or is that diminished because of the break in the age and mellowing?
IAN POULTER: No. I'm still -- the tank's half-full, shall I say. The confidence level is always there. I'm not half-empty guy. I'm a half-full guy. So that's never going to leave. Yeah, I'm as ambitious as I've always been. I always look to perform well. I always want to put pressure on myself and I always demand big things. So that will never change.
Q. What does it take to perform well at Fanling?
IAN POULTER: Well, you're going to have to hole putts. Simple as that. You are going to have to putt it in play, but hole putts at the right time is definitely going to be what the winner is going to have to do.
Ends.