Justin Rose admits he cannot imagine a better scenario than winning a second major title to become world number one for the first time in his career.
Those are the prizes on offer for 2013 champion Rose in the 118th US Open at Shinnecock Hills, a product of ending last season with three wins amid 10 consecutive top-10 finishes worldwide and claiming a ninth PGA Tour title in Texas last month.
A runners-up finish in the following week’s Memorial Tournament could have seen Rose move to the top of the rankings, but there is no doubt that a victory here on Sunday would make the 37-year-old the fourth Englishman to become number one — after Nick Faldo, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald — since the rankings began in 1986.
“I’m in the great position where becoming world number one is going to be a by-product of winning this week,” Rose said. “So I may as well just continue to focus on the winning. That’s where the points are. That’s where the fun is, to be honest with you.
“I couldn’t think of a better scenario than to win a major and to become world number one. I could have finished second at Memorial and become number one so it’s nicer to keep focus on the winning. It keeps things cleaner mentally. It keeps things simple.
“Being world number one is a really cool thing to say at some point in your career, but it’s not my primary focus. My primary focus is winning the tournaments that will get me there.”
The rain which continued to fall as Rose gave his pre-tournament press conference could give him and the other early starters an advantage today, with Tiger Woods and world number one Dustin Johnson among the later starters.
Johnson is a strong favourite for a second US Open title in three years following his six-shot win in Memphis last week, but Rose is vying with Rory McIlroy to be second favourite behind the big-hitting American.
“I think probably it’s about right,” Rose said. “I’ve been playing well. I’ve been playing solid golf. I’ve been on the leaderboard a lot. I’m comfortable with it. I’m number three in the world, past champion here. It makes sense to me.
“Does that mean it’s easy to win? No. But the golf course doesn’t know I’m second favourite and that’s kind of how I try to approach these things. I’ve got to go and build a body of work. I don’t start this tournament ahead of anybody or behind anybody.
“So I think that’s the way I look at it, just trust my game, my skill-set, and hopefully it produces.”
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