JUSTIN Rose was unable to retain his US Open title at Pinehurst, but he put up a decent defence, finishing in a tie for 12th on +3.
The north Hampshire golfer shot rounds of 72 (+2), 69 (-1), 70 (par) and 72 (+2) at the north Carolina course, but was never really in the hunt as Germany’s Martin Kaymer led from start to finish.
Rose got off to a poor start and was four-over-par at the end of his first nine holes, but three birdies after the turn saw him rescue the situation and card a two-over-par round of 72, seven shots behind Kaymer.
The former Robert May’s School pupil did better on the second day, dipping under par despite a bogey at the last, but he was 11 shots behind Kaymer going into the weekend.
A level-par third round of 70, which included four birdies, left Rose eight shots off the lead going into yesterday's final round, but an eagle three at the par-five fifth briefly had him under par for the tournament and in the hunt for a top-five finish.
However, the rest of the round did not go so well, the 33-year-old making six bogeys to card a two-over-par total of 72 and finish just outside the top 10.
His title defence did end on a high with a birdie at the last – and Rose marked the occasion by pushing his fist forward and throwing his leg back in honour of the late Payne Stewart, who celebrated winning at Pinehurst back in 1999 in the same way.
“It was certainly fun to finish that way and in a way honour Payne Stewart,” Rose said. “He was always one of my favourite golfers.”
It was a nice way to end his year as a major champion, but the world number 10 admits that the past 12 months haven’t been as easy as he might have thought.
“It’s been a busy year, a hard year in some ways, too,” Rose said. “You win a major and you think everything is going to be great from there on, but golf continues you test you.
“You continue to have your struggles with the game, and that’s the beautiful thing about it. It’s made me appreciate winning is not everything, as well.”
Rose is not in action this weekend, but will return to the course at the Quicken Loans National, which gets under way at Congressional, in Maryland, next Thursday.