Eric Gay/Associated Press
Justin Rose is the defending champion of the U.S. Open, and along with that comes a special set of challenges.
It’s been 25 years since Curtis Strange repeated as U.S. Open champion. Only five players have ever done it. Since Strange did it, Lee Janzen, Payne Stewart, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen have won multiple U.S. Opens but never consecutively.
The U.S. Open is usually the hardest course that these players face in a given year, and to be that sharp in consecutive years has obviously proved to be near impossible.
"It’s special to come here as the reigning U.S. Open champion," Rose told The Boston Globe. "I didn’t play [the U.S. Open at Pinehurst] in ’99 or ’05, so I really didn’t have a frame of reference, but I really enjoy natural-style golf...and I can see exactly what this test is going to be about."
And maybe that’s his best chance at winning his first tournament since last year’s U.S. Open: the fact that he doesn’t have a frame of reference at Pinehurst. It wouldn’t so much be beginner’s luck, but when there’s no history to speak of, there are also no demons to chase off. He further said:
My preparation’s going to be key. It’s developing and designing a game plan that you believe will hold up over 72 holes that you can execute, that suits your game, and that will produce the winning score. That’s what I did at Merion. I produced a game plan to shoot even par, and that held up [his winning total was 1-over-par 281]. I need to do the same at Pinehurst.