Curtis Strange is hoping that Justin Rose can repeat his feat of winning consecutive US Opens when he competes at Pinehurst this week.
Strange won back-to-back US Open titles when he triumphed in 1988 and 1989 and, despite the likes of Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy attempting to since, he remains the last player to achieve this.
Before Strange, Ben Hogan had successfully defended his US Open crown when he won the tournament in 1950 and 1951 with the first of those wins, like Rose last year, taking place at Merion.
Strange suggests that retaining the US Open has always been a tough ask due to having to play on a different course to the previous year and the amount of luck needed.
"You can go the obvious reasons - it's a year removed, a different golf course," Strange said.
"The talent level has always been deep. You have to be in the right form at the right time, be fortunate. You can play well and still lose. I think the longer it goes the more fortunate I realise I was.
"I'd say you can play well and still not win and I was a bit fortunate the second time, with Tom Kite not playing well on Sunday (Kite held a one-shot lead over Scott Simpson after 54 holes at Oak Hill but slumped to a closing 78).
"It's a tough game and a lot of moving parts, on the toughest test we have in golf outside of the Open Championship."
Strange also insists that he will happily congratulate Rose if he can reclaim the title like he did and won't be taking up the 'Miami Dolphins attitude' when a team threatens to match their perfect season in 1972.
"I'm not a Miami Dolphins-type person, I'm not rooting against him," added Strange. "I'm not drinking champagne Sunday night. And I've also said, if Justin would happen to do it this year, that would be the first phone call. That would be fantastic.
"So do I want to see somebody do it? Not particularly. But I'm not rooting against somebody. Justin will hear from me, like it or not - not that he really cares. If he wins back to back, he doesn't care if I call or not."
Rose made reference to Strange this week as he aims to become the first player to repeat the feat for 25 years. “I’ll be channeling some Curtis Strange from ’88-’89. Hopefully I’ll be the next guy to do it," he said.
Part of the reason it’s so tough to repeat is that the tournament moves to a different course each year. Pinehurst isn’t anything like Merion. If anything, it’s more like Muirfield.
Rose has identified the difference between the course of his US Open win last year and the course this time round.
“It’s a cross between a U.S. Open and an (British) Open Championship this year,” Rose said.
“Merion was very wet. This course is designed to be firm and fast. Clearly there was a lot of thick rough at Merion, a lot of angles, blind shots.
"Here, you’ve got more generous landing areas but it’s all about controlling the ball on the ground, whereas Merion was very much a through-the-air test.
The ball was sticking where it was landing for the most part. But the different test doesn’t sort of make it any less of an opportunity for me, I don’t think.”
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