Can Justin Rose retain his title?

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2013 US Open champion Justin Rose has not had the greatest year so far, but his poor driving accuracy stat (59.9% on the PGA Tour, good for 117th) shouldn’t hurt him at Pinehurst.

Rose’s biggest concern is his drop in the Greens in Regulation category. Last year he hit nearly 69% of the Tour’s greens, this year he’s averaging just over 65%. He is currently 125th in the GIR category this year compared with ninth in 2013 – that’s a lot of players overtaking him.

It’s also difficult to know what Rose took out of the Masters. After a first round 76 that suggested he might miss the cut, he stormed back with rounds of 70 and 69 to complete 54 holes on one-under par and tied for ninth. It was an encouraging recovery but he finished with a disappointing 74 on Sunday to drop into a tie for 14th. “Bit of a roller-coaster week. Good, the bad and the ugly,” he reflected.

Going into last year’s US Open at Merion, Rose had tied for 25th at the Masters, missed the cut at the Players, and finished tied for 8th at the Memorial. That didn’t hint at what was about to happen, so there’s no need to assume his indifferent form this year will prevent him from winning at Pinehurst. This year’s venue, though very different from Merion, should actually suit him better. And now that the early-season tendonitis in his right shoulder has seemingly passed, an early bet might not be a bad idea.

Read our interview with Justin Rose here 

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