Ian Poulter expects Justin Rose to keep the secrets of his success to himself, even though the pair are close friends and Ryder Cup team-mates.
Poulter finished 21st in the US Open last year as Rose claimed his first major title at Merion, finishing two shots ahead of Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.
Although the 38-year-old Englishman would love nothing more than to follow compatriot Rose into the winner’s circle at Pinehurst this week, he would not blame Rose for keeping his cards close to his chest.
“It was an inspiration (to see Rose winning),” said Poulter, who shrugged off a back injury to finish 26th, one shot behind Rose in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last month. “I didn’t drive it well last year; you have to drive it exceptionally well to be a real factor and you need to have an incredible short game.
“You have to be on your game, US Open set-ups are tough. I like tough golf. I would expect myself to be able to hang in there and be tough and if I’m fit, fresh, ready, no niggles, then I am all good.”
Asked if he had sat down with Rose to discuss his Merion heroics, Poulter added: “No we haven’t, and I wouldn’t expect him to open up about all of it anyway. He is a competitor, you have to keep some stuff to yourself, you can’t let it all out.
“As much as he’s a great mate of mine, you want to hold some stuff back. He knows what he did was rather special and I think I know what to do to be able to get there.
“It’s a case of doing it on those four days and as we know, it’s pretty difficult. I don’t think people rationalise it properly sometimes, realise how few majors you actually play and how many great players there are. It’s pretty tough.”
Poulter will take three weeks off after Pinehurst to prepare for a hectic second half of the season and is taking inspiration from Henrik Stenson’s form from July onwards last year. The Swede finished third in the Scottish Open, second in the Open at Muirfield the following week and then was second in the Bridgestone Invitational and third in the US PGA Championship before becoming the first man to win the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai in the same season.
Poulter would love to do something similar after registering just one top-five finish in 2014 and dropping out of the automatic Ryder Cup qualifying places.
“There’s still two majors to come after that three-week spell, plus WGC events and a strong FedEx season,” added Poulter, who was buoyed by a closing 64 to finish joint sixth in the FedEx St Jude Classic on Sunday.
“As we’ve seen with Stenson’s finish to last year, he didn’t start playing much great golf until the Scottish Open so look what can be done. He’s knocking on the door to be world number one in a short space of time.
“Those three weeks off are going to be crucial to get myself in really good shape leading into the back end of the year. I am there or thereabouts (in Ryder Cup qualifying) anyway. I would like to be a factor obviously like I would expect to be and that’s a long way off.
“There are so many great tournaments between now and then, you play great you could be knocking on the door for many wins between now and then.”
Poulter finished 57th the last time the US Open was held at Pinehurst in 2005 and is encouraged by reports of the restoration work undertaken at the course, which means none of the heavy rough and narrow fairways usually associated with the year’s second major.
“I would rather play links golf than the US Open style if I’m honest, I think that’s true to the game of golf,” he added. “US Open golf is brutally difficult, it wears you down and you have to be on your game for that given week.
“I enjoyed playing it last time, apart from a ball bouncing out of a perfectly-centred putt because the hole lining was slightly high. Not that I’m still bitter or remembering that at all!”