PINEHURST, N.C. -- As the U.S. Open gets underway, defending champion Justin Rose has one of the early tee times at Pinehurst No. 2. And he will be attempting to do something not done at the U.S. Open in 25 years -- win the title two years in a row.
Curtis Strange, who is working the tournament as an analyst for ESPN, won the 1988 U.S. Open at Brookline in a playoff over Nick Faldo, then repeated the next year at Oak Hill. Afterward, he famously quipped, "Move over, Ben,'' in reference to Ben Hogan being the last player in 1951 to successfully defend at the U.S. Open.
"I think the longer it goes, the more fortunate I realize I was,'' said Strange, who won 17 times in his PGA Tour career. "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. I'm not a Miami Dolphin-type person, I'm not rooting against him [Rose]. I'm not drinking champagne on Sunday night. If Justin would happen to do it, that would be the first phone call.''
Only six players in the U.S Open's 113-year history have won in consecutive years.
Willie Anderson is the only player to do it three years in a row (1903-05). The others were John McDermott (1911-12); Bobby Jones (1929-30); Ralph Guldahl (1937-38) and Hogan (1950-51).