- Justin Rose defends his U.S. Open title at Pinehurst
- Rose bidding to become first man for 25 years to repeat
- Phil Mickelson looking to complete career grand slam
- Tiger Woods ruled out through injury
Justin Rose is looking to repeat the feat of golfing legend Ben Hogan as he defends his U.S. Open title at Pinehurst's No.2 course this week.
Rose won his first major title at Merion and will be looking for a rare double success in North Carolina.
Hogan won both the 1950 and 1951 U.S. Opens with his initial victory at Merion.
Only Curtis Strange, 25 years ago, has completed two wins in two years in the tournament since Hogan's double triumph.
Rose admits that the Merion precedent has been on his mind as he contemplates his title defense which begins Thursday.
"I've allowed myself that thought for sure," Rose told gathered reporters. "I feel like the U.S. Open test suits me.
"For me being defending champion, I don't even like that word, defending, because it puts you already behind the eight ball. You don't want to be out there being defensive at all."
Rose heads a strong English contingent, which also includes Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Paul Casey, all seeking an elusive first major.
A keen football fan, he nonetheless rated their collective chances of success at Pinehurst above that of England at the World Cup in Brazil.
"I would say there's probably more chance of one of us winning the major than England winning the World Cup potentially," Rose said. "So sad to say, but."
"Blind faith that England will get far in the tournament prevails, so we'll see," Rose added.
Phil Mickelson, runner-up to Rose last year, cruelly occupying that position for the sixth time at the U.S. Open believes he is capable of another strong challenge despite indifferent form this year.
"I feel as good about my game today as I have all year," Mickelson said.
"It's not saying a lot, because I haven't played well all year, but last week was a good week for me. I started to slowly put it together."
His 11th placed finish at the St.Jude Classic Sunday was his best of the season, but he went into last year's British Open at Muirfield on a similar run and triumphed in style.
Masters winner Bubba Watson is also strongly tipped to challenge for his second major of the season, but believes Pinehurst's domed greens will test his patience.
"I wouldn't say unfair. I would just say they're very difficult," he said. "When I say unfriendly it's because they're trying to beat you," he added.
Former world number one Tiger Woods is sitting out his second straight major as he rehabilitates after back surgery, with Australian Adam Scott going into the week as the top-ranked player.