Rose stays confident after short game let-down at Pinehurst
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
PINEHURST North Carolina (Reuters) - Short-game woes undermined Justin Rose's opening round on Thursday at the U.S. Open but the reigning champion remained upbeat about his bid to become the event's first back-to-back winner in 25 years.
Though the English world number nine drove the ball well most of the day, he struggled with his chip shots on to Pinehurst's turtle-back greens as he carded a two-over-par 72 to finish four strokes off the early pace.
"I hit every tee shot just as I wanted to," Rose told reporters after mixing three birdies with five bogeys and totaling 30 putts. "I'm swinging it much better than I have been. I played the par-threes really well.
"Just my short game was very poor. I need to work on that. If I hit it like I have the last few days and just improve the pitching and chipping, get that sharp, I feel confident for the rest of the week."
Asked to pinpoint the main reason for his short game trouble, Rose replied: "It's really grainy around here and you have so many shots to choose from, that can be the problem.
"You've got to be clear on exactly the right spot (to land the ball) and choose the appropriate shot each time. That's something I'll work on."
Rose, who produced remarkable poise to claim his first major crown by two shots in last year's U.S. Open at Merion, knows he needs to up his game a few gears to give himself a chance of a repeat victory.
"I've got to play some great golf the rest of the week," the 33-year-old Englishman smiled. "I have to do that pretty much no matter if I shoot 66 today or 72. Continued...