Rose hopes to defend gold medal in Tokyo
Scott Halleran / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Justin Rose returns to Torrey Pines at No. 8 in the world and looking in both directions.

He was No. 1 in the world at this time a year ago, and that's where he wants to return. It's the other direction - as far down as No. 15 in the world - that has his attention when it comes to the Olympics.

Countries are limited to two players, with as many as four only if they all are among the top 15 in the world. Rose, the leading player from Britain, is confident he'll be in Tokyo to defend his gold medal. But it's not a given.

Tommy Fleetwood is at No. 10. Paul Casey is No. 18. Matt Fitzpatrick is at No. 24, and a resurgent Lee Westwood moved up to No. 29 with his victory in Abu Dhabi.

''Team GB is a really strong team,'' Rose said. ''For me, the 15 is the key mark. Obviously, I'm trying to look at the world rankings and try to go up. I had a little slip toward the end of last year, but having been No. 1 in the world, hopefully I'm looking north, not south. But 15 is the key number. ... You'd be unlucky to be in the top 15 and not go to Tokyo.''

That's the prospect facing Americans, who currently have nine players among the top 15.

But it's early. There are three majors, The Players Championship, two World Golf Championships and two other events that typically dish out big ranking points (Riviera and the Memorial) before the cutoff to qualify.

''It would be fantastic if we could field four guys,'' Rose said.

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Rose hopes to defend gold medal in Tokyo
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