US Open 2014: Defending champion Justin Rose on title defence at Pinehurst No 2
Last Updated: 11/06/14 11:30am
Justin Rose insists he will not be putting any added pressure on himself as he tries to win back-to-back US Open titles this week, saying he will be enjoying the experience of defending his crown at Pinehurst No 2.
No golfer has won consecutive US Opens since Curtis Strange in 1988 and 1989, but Rose is not letting that history heap extra pressure on his shoulders as he look to just enjoy the experience.
"I've allowed myself that thought for sure," said Rose when asked about retaining the title. "Obviously that's the plan this week. I felt like I had a good opportunity in 2012 at Olympic Club, too. I played really well there. I finished six shots back but as a player sometimes it's a lot closer than that.
"I feel like the US Open test suits me. For me being defending champion, I don't even like that word, defending, because it puts you already behind the eight ball. You don't want to be out there being defensive at all.
"I'm just really excited about the opportunity this week presents. Obviously it is only one guy who has the opportunity to repeat, but I'm seeing that as a pressure-free situation. These tournaments are so hard to win, I'm just going to enjoy the challenge of trying to do that.
"I was the first English guy for 40-odd years to win. That's something sweet. But also it was my first major championship. That outweighed everything. Any time you win a major championship there's probably history that's made in some way or another.
"To win it again, the most important thing is my second major championship, but obviously to go back-to-back when it's been a while since someone has been able to do that, that would just be the icing on the cake."
Rose famously missed his first 21 cuts after turning pro the day after finishing fourth as a 17-year-old amateur in the Open Championship in 1998, but he know feels he is reaping the benefits of his continuing upward trend.
"The last few years of my career have been definitely on an upward trend and winning bigger and bigger tournaments, culminating in winning a major," added Rose.
"I haven't been one of the guys who have said 'Well I'm going to win X amount of majors in my career'. So I really want to treat this major that I've won now as a gift and that gives me the ability to now sort of freewheel for the rest of my career, play free, play loose, just go after it. I've got really no pressure on me from that perspective any more.
"I think a lot of us put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get over the hump in a major championship. Just from an odds standpoint, they're hard to win. So the fact I have won now, I think that really gives me the ability to have fun doing it again. Hopefully that will give me an advantage down the stretch on future occasions."
Rose may well skip watching England’s opening World Cup game against Italy on Saturday if he is in contention of retaining his title, having learnt a harsh lesson four years ago at the Travelers Championship when he lost a three-shot lead after watching England go out against Germany in South Africa.
"It was a big game, an emotional football match and then I never really calmed down," Rose recalled. "I think I watched it about 10 in the morning, we were playing at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and I ended up going out and losing the golf tournament."