Justin Rose, the 2013 US Open Champion, isn't feeling any extra pressure entering the 2014 US Open held at Pinehurst No. 2.


Justin Rose, the 2013 US Open Champion, isn’t feeling any extra pressure entering the 2014 US Open held at Pinehurst No. 2.

Following his victory one year ago in Merion, Pennsylvania, Rose is excited to defend his title, seeing his position as a unique opporunity, rather than an added challenge. He said the fact that he is the only player in the field with the opportunity to become a back-to-back US Open champion creates “a pressure-free situation.”

Last year, Rose became the first Englishman in 43 years to win the US Open, when his one-over finish left him two shots ahead of Phil Mickelson. This weekend, he will try to become the first repeat US Open champion since Curtis Strange in 1989.

“I don’t even like that word ‘defending’ because it puts you already behind the eight-ball,” Rose said. “You don’t want to be out there being defensive at all. So I’m just really excited about the opportunity this week presents.”

Rose is paired to play with Mickelson, the 2013 Open Champion, along with US Amateur Champion Matt Fitzpatrick to begin the tournament on Thursday. Mickleson, who has placed as the runner up in a record six US Opens, will try to shake his bad luck at the major to earn a career grand slam.

“I enjoy playing golf with Phil,” Rose said. “I enjoy the spirit in which he plays the game, how free he is out there. He’s got a great temperament for the game.”

Rose spent a lot of time playing Pinehurst No. 2 leading up to the tournament, and feels confident that the course suits his game well. The US Open is annually one of the toughest tests in golf, and Pinehurst No. 2 is no exception.

The course recently went through a significant redesign, which drastically changed the personality of the course from the one that hosted the US Open in 1999 and 2005. The challenges now include lightning fast fairways, funneling balls into hazards and difficult terrain, to complement Pinehurst’s infamous crowned greens that make a consistent short game incredibly important.

The true difficulty of this version of Pinehurst No. 2 is still a mystery, but Rose hopes that he can continue his success at the US Open to win for a second year in a row.