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Justin Rose ready to defend his US Open title

Updated: Wednesday, 21 May 2014 22:38 | Comments

Justin Rose is eager to hold onto the US Open Championship Trophy
Justin Rose is eager to hold onto the US Open Championship Trophy

Justin Rose might have to clean the US Open trophy before he returns it next week, but he already has his sights set on getting it back.

Rose held off Phil Mickelson and Jason Day to win his maiden major title at Merion last year, dedicating his emotional victory on Father's Day to his late father Ken.

The 33-year-old has loved every minute of being US Open champion since - including displaying the trophy on the first tee at Wentworth for this week's BMW PGA Championship - and is now plotting a successful title defence at Pinehurst from 12-15 June.

"I think it gets FedEx'ed after this week," Rose said of the trophy.

"I'm not sure I get my hands on it again so it's time to think about winning it now.

"The best place it's been has been in my house because I enjoy it every day. I walk past it as it sits on the piano in the living room.

"About a week or two ago I put it on the dresser that we have in our bedroom. I thought we're getting to the last few weeks so I'm going to really try and enjoy it now. Basically every morning I woke up and I would see it.

"My son Leo ate some ice cream out of it. He was the first to Christen the trophy. I had not even had a drink but he had some ice cream out of it and we got some great video; I think will last a lifetime, and some great memories. And it holds five bottles of champagne, just FYI.

"I think the biggest perk of winning was sitting in the Royal Box at Wimbledon and seeing Andy Murray win there. That was a pretty special occasion."

Rose was hampered by a shoulder injury earlier in the season but has since rediscovered his top form, finishing eighth, fifth and fourth in his last three events on the PGA Tour.

"I feel like there's more to squeeze out of my game, too," the world number eight added. "I feel that the next couple of weeks I can progress even more and if that translates into wins, that would be fantastic.

"It would be great to win heading into Pinehurst, but at the same time I feel like my game is in good shape to put up a good title defence there."

Major changes have been made to the course since New Zealand's Michael Campbell won there in 2005 and Rose added: "In some ways I'm glad about that because I've never played Pinehurst and I think guys who played in 2005 won't have as much of an advantage because of the course re-design.

"There was a lot of rough in 2005, fairways were narrow, typical USGA-style fairways. But this year it's going to play I think more of a running game, almost a mix between US Open and an Open Championship, I'm led to believe."

Back at Wentworth, Rose admits the BMW PGA Championship is one of the tournaments he would love to tick off his career "bucket list" after attending the tournament as a teenage spectator.

He lost a play-off to Anders Hansen in 2007 and was joint second in 2012, the year Ryder Cup team-mate Luke Donald won his second consecutive title.

Donald was also second in 2010 and third in 2008, while the likes of Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter have relatively poor records in the European Tour's flagship event.

"I think every individual is different," said Donald, who will take three weeks off after the US Open as his wife is due to give birth to their third child. "I think some holes just aesthetically suit your eye, whether the course design is good or bad.

"There's certain parts of this course that I think could be improved still, but in terms of my strengths, when they redid the greens they became a lot smoother and I was able to use that. My putting is a big strength of mine and I was able to putt a lot better.

"When you miss around this course you need a pretty good short game. The bunkers are very deep. You need to be confident out of the sand. I just think little stuff like that when they did the tweaks kind of favoured my game."

European number one Henrik Stenson has not played at Wentworth since 2010, but the Swede can replace Adam Scott as world number one this week, depending on his result here and Scott's in Texas.

"I just don't feel like I play well on this golf course and it's hard for me," said Stenson, who was the first man to win the Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup in the same season in 2013.

"There's a point where you say to yourself 'I know it's an important week for us, but if you're struggling on the golf course and you can't quite figure it out and do any good results, should you just keep on banging your head against the wall trying to get better, or should you do a different schedule'?

"But I'm going to try my best. I'm here and it's the same course as everyone else is playing. I'm just going to go out and try to do a really good job and hopefully I can squeeze something better than the tied eighth (his best finish) from 2007."

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