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Rose has case for defence

Justin Rose is hoping to become the first player for 25 years to successfully defend the US Open title at Pinehurst this week.

Rose was the first English winner of the trophy since Tony Jacklin in 1970, after his two-shot victory at Merion last year.

Nobody has successfully defended the title since Curtis Strange in 1989, and Rose admits the players face a "whole new challenge" at Pinehurst as the set-up is susbtantially different to Merion.

The 33-year-old is understandably reluctant to return the trophy on his arrival in North Carolina, but he is determined to reclaim it on Sunday evening.

"I've got very comfortable living with the trophy, it still makes me smile when I pass it in the house and I still get the good feelings," Rose told Sky Sports News.

"I've enjoyed showing the trophy off to people and pointing out names like Hogan, Nicklaus, Palmer, Player and Watson, and then you get to me at the bottom of the list. It's still surreal.

"I've gone through different phases. There was the elation after winning it, and then there's a period where you put too much pressure on yourself in the months after it.

"I think there's a period where it's not that enjoyable, and then you start to get very comfortable with it and feel very proud.

"But you then start to think about winning more of them, and that's the important thing. You have to take what you learn from the experience and apply it again and again.

"I've got to the point now where I have to think about giving it back, so I've been focussing hard on 1988/89 and Curtis Strange being the last man to repeat.

"I'm looking forward to it. I'm running into some good form after a slightly slow start to the year for a couple of different reasons.

"But there's a lot of big tournaments coming up, and the US Open is obviously front and centre in my focus."

Rose is also relishing being announced as the reigning US Open champion when he arrives on the first tee at Pinehurst.

"I've had that honour a few times," he said. "The first time it happened was at the Travelers Championship right after the US Open, and I was smiling while hitting my tee shot.

Great moment

"It's a great moment, but there's no better moment than at a US Open when you've won it the previous year. You then realise how big that tournament was.

"Whenever you get to a major the tension is more palpable and you just know it's a different type of arena. It's going to be great to return and know you've done it."

Rose also insisted there was no extra pressure and expectation on his shoulders this year due to the differences between the Merion and Pinehurst layouts.

He added: "If I was going back to Merion there would be the memories and expectation, and comparisons to how you played the year before.

"But because it's a different venue I see it as a whole now challenge. Can you adapt and can you bring your game like you did the year before to a new venue.

"I think Pinehurst will require a whole new set of skills. I think there will be a lot more running the ball along the ground and there's a more extreme short-game test.

"But if I was able to come out on top at Pinehurst I would feel great about winning on two very different courses."

Watch all four days of the 201 4 US Open at Pinehurst live on Sky Sports. First round coverage starts Thursday at 2pm on Sky Sports 4.