All is not lost in Justin Rose’s defence of his US Open crown, but the Englishman will know that he will have to improve if he is to retain the trophy.
For the most part, Rose’s game was impressive today. He was accurate off the tee and decent with his long-iron approach play, but his short game was erratic and, on a punishing Pinehurst course, it was that facet of his game which cost him a better score.
That said, the defending champion’s opening day round of 72 is one that a lot of the field will be enviable of.
Pinehurst is playing tough this week, with hazardous rough and difficult greens, and it means that any score of around even par is not to be grumbled at.
Only 15 players made it to under-par scores on the opening Thursday of the tournament, with Martin Kaymer seizing a three shot lead after a brilliant five-under-par round of 65.
The rest of the field is fairly bunched up and Rose is part of the large chasing pack, who will be looking to reduce the German’s lead as the tournament progresses.
The 33-year-old’s round was one which he will be happy with considering his display on the first nine holes.
Rose struggled to get to grips with the course and the demands of attempting to be the first golfer to retain his title at the US Open for 25 years, making four bogeys through the first nine holes.
However, once he steadied himself he started to show why he won the competition last time out and three birdies, with only one dropped shot, on the closing nine holes has kept him in contention.
And Rose, who is seven shots off the lead after the first 18 holes, is remaining optimistic about his chances for the rest of the week.
"I hit every tee shot just as I wanted to," Rose told reporters. "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."
It is clear then that he will be hoping to improve that part of his game for the rest of the week and if he does he will surely be right up there once again come Sunday.
His task of reaching the top is not an easy one, though, with plenty of talented and confident golfers already ahead of him.
The early leader Kaymer has already won the Players Championship earlier this year, meaning he is used to playing under pressure, whilst no golfer wants to be looking up at the likes of the in-form Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy so early in the tournament.
However, Rose is still in with a shout and whilst he is it would be very foolish to write him off.
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